(former Chief Analyst for Military Records, Assassination Records Review Board)
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On Thursday, November 21, 2013 I noticed a tall, reserved, dignified and almost shy man standing in the lobby of the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, where the JFK Lancer conference was being held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. He was well over six feet tall, wore glasses, had white hair, and sported a well-trimmed short white beard; was impeccably groomed, and had an air of quiet and seriousness that made me hesitant to approach him. I immediately knew it was James Curtis Jenkins, one of the two Navy corpsmen who served as “autopsy technicians” and assisted the Navy pathologists, Drs. Humes and Boswell, at President Kennedy’s autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital on the evening of November 22, 1963. It was now 50 years later, and I was pleased to see Mr. Jenkins alive, and looking so good---and yet surprised to see him attending a JFK research conference. I introduced myself, and found that he was attending the conference with William Law, one of the very few people in the JFK research community he trusts. William Law interviewed many of the autopsy witnesses and published his oral history of their interviews, In the Eye of History, in 2003.
James Jenkins had a reputation for being reticent to discuss the JFK autopsy, and with good reason. He did not have a good experience when interviewed by two hostile and disbelieving HSCA staff members, and so didn’t trust any Federal authorities, particularly since---because of what he himself witnessed at President Kennedy’s autopsy---he did not concur with the Warren Commission’s conclusions about a lone gunman firing from behind, and no shots hitting JFK from the right front. After the HSCA published its own report in 1979, confirming the Warren Commission’s conclusions that Lee Harvey Oswald had done all the wounding of the limousine’s occupants with shots from above and behind, he was even less well disposed toward the organs of authority in this country. Over the years, since the HSCA’s report was issued in 1979, Jim had agreed to appear on video before three different researcher-organized panels consisting largely of Navy autopsy witnesses, but none of this footage has yet been aired in the format of a completed documentary. I had seen some of the raw footage from one of these interviews (in which Jim was interviewed along with Paul O’Connor and some of the Parkland treatment staff, including Dr. Robert McClelland), and I knew, therefore, that Mr. Jenkins had significant things to say about what transpired at Bethesda Naval Hospital on 11/22/63. In the interview footage I had seen of him along with some members of Parkland treatment staff, he seemed sober, responsible, and most credible. When we spoke on the 21st, Jim stated that he was not seeking any notoriety at all, and that his sole wish was to sit quietly in the back of the room at selected presentations and just take it all in, and observe. I told him I would honor his request and would not reveal that he was present during any of the presentations he decided to attend.
On the afternoon of November 22nd, William Law moderated a “breakout” event called: “Special Guest: Jim Jenkins.” I was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. As it turned out, James Jenkins began to open up at this session and had quite a lot to say about his recollections of the autopsy; and the audience was so interested in what he had to say, that a special session (unbeknownst to me) was organized for later that night, in which Mr. Jenkins continued to discuss his recollections of JFK’s autopsy. Fortunately for me, and for history, Dr. David W. Mantik, M.D., PhD., attended both sessions at which Jenkins spoke, and took copious notes, something he has been doing for decades now whenever an autopsy participant takes the floor. All of my information in this article about what James Jenkins said at the Adolphus Hotel on 11/22/2013 is derived from Dr. Mantik’s notes, which I trust explicitly and without reservation to represent what Jenkins had to say, without any embellishment or changes of any kind.
I will be discussing a few key areas of Jim Jenkins’ 50th anniversary recollections in this essay, and will then explain why they are so significant to our understanding of what happened at Bethesda Naval Hospital on 11/22/63.
THE CONDITION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY’S BRAIN: Jenkins stated that the standard incisions in the cranium required to remove the brain---a “skull cap” (his term for a craniotomy)---were not done, because they were not necessary. He thought this might be explained by prior incisions, meaning that some surgery had been done prior to the autopsy. He recalled that the damage to the top of the cranium was much more extensive than the damage to the brain itself, which he found unusual. Jenkins recalled Dr. Boswell asking if there had been surgery at Parkland Hospital. He recalled Dr. Humes saying: “The brain fell out in my hands,” as he removed the brain from the body.
Jenkins recalled that at the time Dr. Humes removed the brain, it was not necessary for Humes to resect the spinal cord in order to remove the brain. Jenkins stated that the spinal cord had already been completely severed [not torn] by incisions on each side, in different planes. Jenkins recalled that the total brain volume seemed too small, i.e., smaller than the skull cavity. He recalled that the right anterior brain was damaged, and some brain tissue was missing there, but recalled no damage to the left brain. He said about two thirds of the brain was present (which of course means that about one third of its mass was missing). He recalled that a large amount of posterior tissue---cerebral tissue---was also missing.
Jenkins stated that after Dr. Boswell put the brain upside down in a sling in a formalin bucket, he noticed both carotid arteries (at the Circle of Willis) leading into the brain were retracted, which made it very difficult to insert needles for infusion. Jenkins interpreted this retraction as meaning that the carotids had been cut some time before the autopsy.
When asked how he interpreted all of this data about the condition of the brain, Jenkins said he had concluded that the brain had already been removed before the autopsy began. In response to a question as to why this might have occurred, he stated quite clearly that the purpose would have been to remove bullet fragments.
Jenkins also stated that he never saw any bullet or bullet fragment fall from JFK’s body during the autopsy, as others had recalled.
Analysis: James Curtis Jenkins, in these discussions on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, has confirmed my hypothesis of clandestine, post-mortem surgery on JFK’s cranium at Bethesda Naval Hospital to remove evidence of frontal shots before the “official autopsy” began at 8:00 PM. Here is why I say this:
(1) It was normally Jenkins’ job (and also Paul K. O’Connor’s job) to remove the brain at Navy autopsies, by performing the post-mortem surgery called a craniotomy, or “skull cap.” Neither Paul O’Connor (who gave many interviews prior to his death) nor James Jenkins, either performed---or witnessed---a craniotomy. HOWEVER, we know that a craniotomy was indeed performed, because both Tom Robinson of Gawler’s Funeral Home, and Navy x-ray technician Ed Reed, confirmed that they witnessed a pathologist sawing into President Kennedy’s cranium to “get the brain out” (in the words of Tom Robinson). In a 1996 interview with the ARRB staff, Tom Robinson recalled that “the doctors” did extensive sawing on the rear of the skull to get to the brain; and under oath at his 1997 ARRB deposition, Ed Reed specifically recalled seeing Dr. Humes (by name) make a long incision with a scalpel in the frontal bone above the forehead, just behind the hairline, and follow-up with a bone saw in that same region. At this point Reed and his colleague, fellow x-ray technician Jerrol Custer, were summarily dismissed from the morgue. Fifteen minutes after being dismissed, they were recalled and began taking the skull x-rays.
(2) The above evidence provided by Robinson and Reed proves that Dr. Humes perjured himself before both the Warren Commission and the ARRB, by claiming that he did not have to perform a craniotomy to remove JFK’s brain. Furthermore, the observations of Robinson and Reed indicate that autopsy technicians O’Connor and Jenkins were simply not in the morgue when that post-mortem surgery was performed by Humes. Since JFK’s body arrived at Bethesda in a shipping casket and body bag at 6:35 PM (per the Boyajian report of November 26, 1963, and the combined observations of Dennis David and Paul O’Connor), and then re-entered the morgue at 8:00 PM in the ceremonial bronze Dallas casket (per numerous witnesses, and the Joint Casket Team Report), I have concluded that it was during this 85-minute interregnum---a period of almost an hour and a half---that the clandestine surgery took place. O’Connor and Jenkins were clearly excluded from the morgue at the time, otherwise they would also remember the modified “skull cap” performed by Humes, just as Robinson and Reed did.
(3) The modified craniotomy performed by Dr. Humes was necessary to gain access to the brain for one obvious purpose---to remove bullet fragments and entry wounds, evidence of shots from the front, prior to the formal start of the autopsy. We know it was necessary to perform a craniotomy of sorts, to get the brain out, because the wound descriptions of the avulsed posterior head wound (the blowout) provided by Dr. Carrico at Parkland (5 x 7 cm), and by Tom Robinson (see his ARRB sketch) and Navy Captain R. O. Canada at Bethesda (per Kurtz, 2006), all indicate that the avulsed wound in JFK’s right posterior skull was the same at Bethesda upon arrival as it had been when observed at Parkland, and was therefore too small to permit removal of the brain without performing surgery to remove significant portions of the cranium.
(4) It is clear that the first round of skull x-rays and the majority of the autopsy photos in the official collection today were taken immediately following this post-mortem surgery that so dramatically opened up the skull. The damage seen today in the surviving skull x-rays, and in all of the autopsy photos showing the top and right side of JFK’s head, with the head resting in a metal brace, were taken immediately after this post-mortem surgery. The surgery was done in a hurried manner, and once completed, President Kennedy’s head wound (the posterior blowout) had been expanded to almost five times its original size. (Simply compare the Carrico wound dimensions, from Dallas, of 5 x7 centimeters, with the Boswell dimensions of missing bone in the cranium (in his autopsy sketch) from Bethesda, of 10 x 17 centimeters; the ratios are 35 sq. cm vs. 170 sq. cm.)
(5) Furthermore, the bright red incision high in JFK’s forehead, seen in various autopsy photographs above the right eye in the frontal bone, just beneath the hairline, is additional evidence of post-mortem surgery, for that striking wound was not seen by anyone at Parkland Hospital.
(6) The proof of this cover-up is the fact that Humes and Boswell lied about the nature of these photographs to the ARRB during their depositions, saying that the photos were taken before any incisions, and represented the condition of the body immediately after it arrived at Bethesda. We know from the Parkland observations, and from the statements of Robinson and Reed, that this was perjury.
(7) Additionally, the removal of bullet fragments from the brain (and the body)---which never made it into the official record---by autopsy doctors at Bethesda is damning proof that clandestine surgery to alter the crime scene (the body of JFK) took place prior to the start of the official autopsy, which ran from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Tom Robinson told the ARRB staff in 1996 that he was shown a vial or test tube containing about 10 small metallic fragments; Dennis David has consistently stated ever since 1979 that he held in his hand, and typed a receipt for, 4 bullet fragments that night, which constituted more mass than one bullet, but less total mass than two bullets; and the infamous Belmont FBI memo from 11/22/63 stated that there was a bullet lodged behind JFK’s ear, which the FBI was going to obtain. Furthermore, it is crucial to understanding the true sequence of events at Bethesda to understand the implications of Jenkins’ statement at Lancer that he did not see any bullet falling from the body---whereas x-ray technician Jerrol Custer did see a bullet fragment fall from the thorax onto the examining table. In corroboration of Custer’s claim, Paul O’Connor told the HSCA staff that after he returned to the morgue after some period of time, after being ordered to leave, he was informed by one of his Navy colleagues that an intercostal bullet (i.e., a bullet taken from the tissue between two ribs) had been found and removed. This all indicates that some Navy personnel were banned from the morgue during certain procedures performed early that night: namely, post-mortem surgery to sanitize the crime scene. That the crime scene---the President’s body---was sanitized, we can be sure of, for the only two pieces of metal removed from JFK’s body, according to the official record, were two tiny fragments, 1 x 3, and 2x 7 mm in size, taken from the cranium and handed over to the 2 FBI agents, Sibert and O’Neill.
(8) The two FBI agents---like Paul O’Connor and James Jenkins---were likewise barred from the morgue after carrying the (empty) bronze Dallas casket into the morgue anteroom, at about 7:17 PM---with the help of two Secret Service agents, Kellerman and Greer. AFTER they were finally allowed into the morgue about 8:00 PM, they recorded in their notes that the chief pathologist, Dr. Humes, made the following statement: “…it was also apparent that a tracheotomy had been performed, as well as surgery of the head area, namely in the top of the skull.” The two FBI agents confirmed in the mid 1960s to their superiors that this statement in their report (dated November 26, 1963) was a direct quotation of Dr. Humes. James Sibert (one of the two FBI agents at the autopsy) confirmed that Humes made this statement at his own (Sibert’s) ARRB deposition in 1997. When asked under oath at his ARRB deposition whether he had seen any evidence of surgery on JFK’s body, Humes committed perjury and said, “No.” Humes’ denial was significant, because it indicates he was hiding something. In 1980 David Lifton interpreted Humes’ remark as meaning he had discovered surgery performed by someone else, before the body got to Bethesda. I respectfully disagree, because my rigorous timeline analysis (see my July 2013 essay on this blogsite) has revealed that there was barely enough time to get JFK’s body from Andrews AFB to Bethesda by helicopter, and for it to arrive at the Bethesda morgue loading dock at 6:35 PM---and therefore, I conclude that the surgery could not have happened anywhere else but at Bethesda. Remember, Canada and Robinson confirmed that the head wound, when first seen at Bethesda, was the same as it looked in Dallas. [Significantly, this eliminates any possibility that the post-mortem surgery occurred anywhere in Dallas, Texas.] My own, differing psychological interpretation of Humes’ remarks about surgery, in view of the severe timeline restrictions on the body’s transportation, are that Dr. Humes performed the post-mortem surgery himself at Bethesda, and then panicked before a large, disbelieving audience inside the morgue shortly after 8:00 PM, and made his intentionally deflective oral utterance about “surgery of the head area” (mimicked by Bowell in the form of a rhetorical question, according to James Jenkins). I view Dr. Humes’ excited oral utterance as a defensive reaction to the overwhelming skepticism of his audience, as recalled by Paul O’Connor in many interviews, when that audience was confronted with the enormous amount of missing bone in the cranium shortly after 8:00 PM; psychologists call this defensive reaction dissociation. The implication of Humes’ statement, as I see it, was that he was attempting to create an escape route for himself, attempting to distance himself from what he had just done, to wit: “I see the surgery just like all of you do, but I didn’t do it---someone else did.” If there had been a benign explanation for the “surgery of the head area” statement made by Humes, or for the post-mortem surgery itself, then both Humes and Boswell would have provided that explanation at their ARRB depositions. Instead, they stonewalled and denied (unconvincingly) that they had even seen any evidence of surgery.
(9) It is no wonder, then, that once he was allowed back into the morgue to witness and assist with the “sham” autopsy---nothing more than a charade enacted before the 2 FBI agents and about 35 witnesses in the morgue gallery---that James Jenkins noticed that Kennedy’s brain stem had already been cut by two incisions (one on each side), and had the opinion that the brain had previously been removed from the cranium. It had been, about 75 to 90 minutes previously. Jeremy Gunn, General Counsel at the ARRB, during a discussion with me about the medical evidence, sharply interrupted me once when I used the word “autopsy,” saying: “President Kennedy never had an autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital---that was not an autopsy.” He was correct. It is vital to understand that the illicit, clandestine surgery performed at Bethesda prior to the autopsy---obviously done to remove bullet fragments and evidence of frontal shots from the body prior to the “official procedure” performed before witnesses---invalidates the official autopsy report and all subsequent testimony about JFK’s wounds by the autopsy pathologists. As a result, the recollections of the Parkland treatment staff then inevitably become the “best evidence” of how President Kennedy was killed; and their two universal observations were of an entrance wound in the throat (made by a shot from the front), and an exit wound in the right posterior skull (necessarily implying a shot from the front).
(10) Dr. Pierre Finck, who had been called by the defense team in the New Orleans trial of Clay Shaw (the Garrison trial) in 1969, told the defense team (per William J. Wegman’s interview notes) that President Kennedy’s brain had been severed from his spinal cord, and that this had been described in the autopsy report. This is consistent with James Jenkins’ account of what he witnessed (surely after 8:00 PM) when Humes removed the brain (for the second time) before a large morgue audience: namely, that the brain stem had previously been severed by incisions on both sides, in different planes. [Incidentally, Finck’s statement to the Clay Shaw defense team is a further proof that the extant autopsy report is not the original---the subject of chapter 11 in my book---since the autopsy report in the Archives today does not mention the brain stem being severed.] Now, Finck did not arrive at the morgue until 8:30 PM, after the brain, heart, and lungs had been removed. Therefore, Dr. Humes must have informed Finck about the severance of the spinal cord. Humes really had no choice, since according to Jenkins, the brain had literally fallen out in his hands before a large audience, and there had to be an explanation provided for that bizarre occurrence. Similarly, I believe the reason Humes took a tissue section from the area where the spinal cord had been transected, at the subsequent brain exam on 11/25/63, was to “cover his ass.” It was all theater. For him not to have taken a section from the line of transection, after announcing “surgery of the head area,” and after the brain falling out in his hands without his large audience witnessing any cutting to dislodge it from the cranium at its attachment points, would have been most suspicious. By taking a tissue section from this area, I believe Humes was cleverly attempting to distance himself from “whoever did the surgery,” should it become an issue later on. In 1996, Dr. Humes stated under oath to Jeremy Gunn of the ARRB that the brain stem was damaged before he removed the brain, but told Gunn that he had transected it himself. Humes denied that it was disconnected or transected when the body was received. No doubt this was true; what Humes did not tell the ARRB at his deposition was that he had done so while James Jenkins and Paul O’Connor were not in the morgue, before 8:00 PM, when he was removing evidence of frontal shots from the body of the slain Commander-in-Chief.
(11) Jenkins’ observation that the damage to the cranium was much larger than the damage to the underlying brain seems consistent with the surgery hypothesis, and not with damage caused by a bullet.
JENKINS IMPUGNS AND DISAVOWS THE BRAIN PHOTO SKETCH PUBLISHED BY THE HSCA: Dr. David Mantik and Dr. Gary Aguilar---both long-time and dedicated researchers in the JFK medical evidence arena---got together privately with James Jenkins during a short break in the midst of his second panel session on 11/22/2013, and presented him with a high-resolution laptop computer rendition of the Ida Dox HSCA medical illustration of one of the brain photographs in the Archives (a superior view of a damaged, but intact and unsectioned, human brain). They asked him if the image in the official sketch was the brain he saw removed from the body, and that he himself infused, the night of JFK’s autopsy. Dr. Mantik’s notes read: “He clearly replied that it was not---he had seen significant loss of brain in the right posterior area.”
Analysis: This confirms the second major conclusion in my book---that the brain photographs in the Archives cannot be photos of President Kennedy’s brain, which constitutes the strongest evidence of a U.S. government cover-up in the medical evidence arena. This subject is thoroughly covered in chapter 10 of my book, Inside the ARRB. This chapter, in Volume III of Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, is the single most important chapter in my multi-volume work, and should be required reading for any journalist, historian, or researcher who approaches the JFK assassination. To summarize briefly here, the descriptions of damage to the brain found in the Supplementary Autopsy Report (after the brain was examined at a separate post-autopsy examination) do not appear consistent with the pattern of damage in the brain photographs. This was noticed by both Dr. Robert Livingston, before the time of the ARRB, and independently by my own boss, ARRB General Counsel Jeremy Gunn. I myself conducted the rigorous timeline analysis of all previous testimony---something no one else had ever done---which revealed for the first time, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that there were two separate brain exams following JFK’s autopsy---not simply one, as there should have been. The official photographer when JFK’s brain was examined on Monday morning, 11/25/63---John Stringer---disowned the brain photographs in the Archives at his ARRB deposition because they are on the wrong type of B & W and color film, because they represent views he did not shoot of the underside of the brain, and because the many photos he shot of serial sections of the brain (after coronal sectioning) are not present. Former FBI agent Frank O’Neill disowned the brain photos in the Archives at his ARRB deposition because he said that way too much mass was present in the photos (he recalled that over one half of the mass of JFK’s brain was missing when he saw it following its removal at the autopsy on the body, Friday night). We know that Dr. Finck, the Army pathologist who assisted at JFK’s autopsy, did not attend the first brain exam on 11/25/63, but did attend a second brain exam sometime between 11/29 and 12/02. Drs. Humes and Boswell attended both events, which means they were orchestrating the brain cover-up, and were using Dr. Finck as a dupe, as the witness to the examination of a substitute brain at the second exam, whose photos would soon be inserted into the official record. It is the photographs of the substitute brain, from the second brain examination, that are in the National Archives today; not the photographs of JFK’s brain, from the first examination, which were suppressed and never made it into the official record. James Jenkins confirmed this with his statement about the Ida Dox official HSCA drawing.
JAMES JENKINS RECALLS EVIDENCE OF A BULLET HOLE IN THE RIGHT TEMPORAL AREA, IMMEDIATELY FORWARD OF, AND JUST ABOVE, THE RIGHT EAR: Jenkins recalled the large posterior hole in JFK’s head, but also recalled a small (approximately 5 mm in diameter) hole in the right temporal bone, just forward of and just above the right ear. He saw this quite early in the autopsy, and recalls that Dr. Finck saw this and commented on it. The circumference was gray, which suggested to Jenkins the passage of a bullet. He said that even Dr. Finck speculated that a bullet might have caused this hole. However, none of the pathologists ever returned to this site, nor did they discuss it any further. When questioned, he said he did not recall seeing evidence of a bullet's entry high in the forehead, above the right eye, but did state that these two sites were completely different, i.e., separated by enough distance to be distinguishable. He had no recollection of the bullet entrance wound low in the posterior skull described by all three pathologists in the autopsy report, and in their testimony over the years.
Analysis: Jenkins' 5 mm diameter bullet wound in the right temporal bone, just anterior to and slightly above the level of the right ear, is entirely consistent with an entry wound, and inconsistent with a bullet exit wound. Jenkins’ bullet entry site supports a shot from the right front that would have caused the huge blowout in the right rear posterior skull, the large avulsed wound seen by all the Parkland witnesses. This was the large defect, devoid of scalp and skull, that neurosurgeon Kemp Clark at Parkland described as a probable “tangential wound” at the Parkland press conference the afternoon of the assassination. [A bullet striking near the right ear and blowing out the right rear of the skull could create damage consistent with what someone else might describe as a "tangential wound."] Jenkins’ bullet hole is consistent with the same-day testimony of Bill Newman, who thought he saw part of President Kennedy’s ear “blown off”---presumably Newman saw a bone fragment exit this area immediately after the bullet’s impact. Jenkins' bullet entry site is also consistent with the wound diagram of the side of the head (a lateral view) made by Tom Robinson in 1996 for the ARRB.
And I know why James Jenkins did not recall seeing an entry wound high above the right eye in the frontal bone, just below JFK’s hairline. In fact, it is highly significant that Jenkins did NOT see it. By the time Jenkins saw the body, shortly after 8:00 PM, that wound (seen by Dennis David and Joe O’Donnell in photographs the week after JFK’s death) had been obliterated---excised by Dr. Humes’s scalpel---during the clandestine post-mortem surgery. No doubt all Jenkins could see in that area was the bright red incision we see in the forehead today, above the right eye, in the autopsy photographs. We know that incision was not made at Parkland Hospital, and was not seen by anyone in Dallas. Surely, therefore, it was made by Dr. Humes in order to remove all evidence of the entrance wound at that site from the body. This is the same site at which acting White House press secretary Malcolm Kilduff pointed his finger before media people with cameras, who were at Parkland Hospital, when he quoted Dr. Burkley’s statement that the cause of death was a bullet “right through the brain.” Jenkins did not see it simply because he was not in the morgue when Dr. Humes removed evidence of that entrance wound (skin and bone tissue) from the cranium, as well as numerous bullet fragments from the brain, during clandestine surgery prior to the autopsy.
JENKINS RECALLED THE APPROXIMATE SIZE OF THE LARGE WOUND IN THE POSTERIOR CRANIUM: Twice during his talks at JFK Lancer, Jenkins recalled that he did observe the large wound in the right rear of the head, and that its approximate size was "somewhat larger than a silver dollar."
Analysis: This description is entirely consistent with the wound sketches made by Parkland witnesses nurse Audrey Bell, and Dr. Charles Crenshaw, for the ARRB in 1997. (They are published in my book, and can also be obtained from the JFK Records Collection at Archives II). The size of the wound recalled by Jenkins in the right rear quadrant of the skull is also entirely consistent with the size of the wound in sketches made for the ARRB by two Bethesda witnesses, mortician Tom Robinson, and FBI agent James Sibert. (They, too, are published in my book and are available at Archives II.) [Note: The fact that Bell and Crenshaw at Parkland, and Robinson and Sibert at Bethesda, all recalled the same approximate location and size for the wound in the posterior skull, is a simple and elegant proof that JFK's wounds were not altered in transit, and that his head wound was in the same condition when it arrived at Bethesda, as it was when it left Parkland hospital.] Furthermore, the size of this posterior cranial wound recalled by Jenkins ("somewhat larger than a silver dollar") is consistent with the size and location of the posterior head wound given by Navy Captain Robert O. Canada---the Commanding Officer of the Bethesda treatment hospital in 1963---to researcher Michael Kurtz in 1968. At Dr. Canada's request, Kurtz withheld this explosive information [which was contrary to the autopsy report and to the Warren Commission's findings] until after Canada's death, and finally published it in his book in 2006, quoting Robert O. Canada as describing a: "...very large, 3-5 cm wound in the right rear of the President's head, in the lower right occipital region." Canada told Kurtz that it was "clearly an exit wound," because the occipital bone was "avulsed" [i.e., exploded outward]. In corroboration, Dr. Charles Carrico of Parkland Hospital told the Warren Commission under oath, in 1964, that the approximate dimensions of the posterior head wound were about 5 x 7 centimeters (clearly incompatible with an entry wound, and clearly consistent with a typical bullet exit wound in the cranium). The very similar locations and dimensions recalled by Jenkins, Bell, Crenshaw, Robinson, Sibert, Canada, and Carrico are all within the expected range of accuracy and consistency expected of eyewitness describing the same event many years later. In fact, they are remarkably consistent with each other. All of these descriptions fall within the right rear quadrant of the skull, and do not in any way encompass the top of the head or the right side of the head. This is also significant. These collective observations are a further proof that the massive damage to the top and right side of the head, seen in two thirds of the autopsy photos, must surely represent surgical manipulations performed AFTER JFK's body arrived at Bethesda hospital---post-mortem surgery performed prior to when the official autopsy began---simply to gain access to the cranium and remove evidence of shots from the front. Navy pathologists Humes and Boswell both perjured themselves when they told the ARRB that these autopsy photos of massive damage to the top and right side of the head depicted the body's condition immediately after it arrived, and prior to any incisions.
JAMES JENKINS' RECOLLECTIONS OF JFK'S BACK WOUND ARE INCONSISTENT WITH THE SINGLE BULLET THEORY: Jim Jenkins recalled a very shallow back wound in JFK's upper posterior thorax, that did not transit the body. He recalled Dr. Humes sticking his finger in the wound, and seeing Dr. Humes' finger making an indentation in the intact pleura as he viewed Humes' probing from the other side, where the right lung would have been before its removal. The pleura was intact. Jenkins also recalled seeing a bruise at the top of the middle lobe of the right lung (but not at the top, or apex of the right lung). Jenkins also recalled that the back wound was 10 centimeters lower than the tracheotomy site in the anterior neck.
Analysis: Like the two FBI agents present at the autopsy, Jenkins recalled a shallow back wound that did not transit the body; recalled Humes inserting his finger in the wound, and the fact that the bullet track terminated and did not go anywhere; and recalled that it was low enough in the back that the single bullet theory was impossible. In fact, per Jenkins' recollection that the back wound was 10 cm below the plane of the tracheotomy site, we can safely conclude that EVEN IF THE BULLET THAT ENTERED THE BACK HAD TRANSITED THE BODY AND EXITED AT THE TRACHEOTOMY SITE, that it would have been going in an UPWARD trajectory, and therefore Arlen Specter's absurd single bullet theory would still be impossible. Any transiting bullet traveling upward in this manner could not have struck Governor Connally below the right armpit, since Connally was sitting in a jump seat directly in front of President Kennedy that was well below the level of JFK's back seat bench.
Jim Jenkins' discussion of the bruise he observed at the top of the right lung's middle lobe causes me to re-evaluate the subject of the "missing bruise photographs" from JFK's autopsy. Dr. Humes stated repeatedly before the Warren Commission, the HSCA, and the ARRB that the pathologists and the photographer---John Stringer---had gone to great pains to illuminate the interior of the chest in order to photograph what Humes described as a bruise located in the pleural dome itself, immediately above the apical portion (or apex) of the right lung. And yet there are no such photographs in the autopsy collection today, and never have been---at least not since the inventory was drawn up at the National Archives on November 1, 1966 by Humes, Boswell, Ebersole, and Stringer. I now wonder if Humes' tale about a bruise at the top of the pleural dome might have been "fabricated out of whole cloth," to use one of Humes' most noteworthy phrases during his ARRB deposition. His mention of the bruise above the apex of the right lung in the autopsy report was viewed at the time as corroboration that the bullet entering the back of the President had indeed transited the body, and exited the neck---at least, to Humes it was. Months later, when Arlen Specter and Humes jointly invented the single bullet theory (which claimed that this transiting bullet had also struck Governor Connally), this purported bruise became even more important to proving the Warren Commission's contention that there had been a lone assassin firing from behind. And for these reasons, it has always been mystifying why this crucial evidence, which might have supported Humes' contention that a bullet did transit JFK's body, has never been part of the official collection of autopsy photographs. If the photos had supported Humes' contention of a transiting bullet, why would they not have been included in the collection? It never made any sense.
I now believe there is a high likelihood there never was any such bruise atop the pleural dome, and that Humes, recalling the true bruise at the top of the right lung's middle lobe (per Jim Jenkins), invented the bruise atop the pleural dome "out of whole cloth," in an attempt to foster his belated conclusion (not in the original draft autopsy report---subsequently burned---and not in the first signed version, which is now missing), in the extant autopsy report (the third written version of that document), that a bullet transited JFK's body.
Why do I make such a strong statement? Because the ARRB discovered evidence of Humes' predilection for lying about another subject during his ARRB deposition in 1996. Humes stated in the autopsy report that the lateral skull x-rays depicted a trail of bullet fragments leading from the bullet entrance wound low in the rear of the head, near the EOP, in an upward direction to Humes' purported exit site in the right front of the cranium. And yet the lateral skull x-rays in the Archives show no such thing; instead, they show a clear trail of metallic fragments leading from the upper frontal bone (above the right orbit) in an upward direction toward the upper rear of the skull, NOT DOWNWARD TOWARD THE EOP. When shown this clear discrepancy while under oath by Jeremy Gunn, the ARRB's General Counsel, Humes could offer no explanation whatsoever, became quite silent, blushed, and exhibited what I interpreted as extreme embarrassment---perhaps even shame.
In view of this, I now wonder if Humes simply invented the "bruise story" to support his new conclusion about a transiting bullet in the third (extant) version of the autopsy report---the one we are familiar with today. When before the ARRB, photographer John Stringer recalled illuminating the interior of the chest for some reason to take photographs, but did not remember the specifics. Perhaps the bruise being photographed was actually in the pleura at the level of the top of the middle lobe of the right lung, adjacent to the area of Humes' probing, as witnessed by Jenkins at the autopsy.
CONCLUSION: James Jenkins made many other interesting and important observations during his two talks, including the fact that the autopsy “face sheet,” i.e., the body chart and note-taking aide, called the Autopsy Descriptive Sheet, that is in the official record today is NOT the one he filled out at the autopsy of JFK. The "face sheet" in evidence today at the National Archives depicts two body charts on the front side of the document, and the back side of the locally produced form---which was originally blank---was used by Dr. Boswell to make an historically important sketch depicting the severe damage to the top of President Kennedy's skull. Jenkins specifically recalled at JFK Lancer---as he had in previous interviews---that the Autopsy Descriptive Sheet he used at President Kennedy's autopsy was a two-sided form, with a single body chart of the front of a human body on the first page; and another body chart, of the back of a human form, on the reverse side. He also noted that there are erasures and emendations of various organ weights on the extant form in the Archives, which he did not make, and which were contrary to the conventions for such changes employed in 1963. In addition, Jenkins recalled a second round of skull x-rays taken at the autopsy, and the fact that OBLIQUE VIEWS were taken of the posterior head wound; this confirms x-ray technician Jerrol Custer's consistent recollections over the years that he exposed at least 5 or 6 skull x-rays, and that those included oblique views. There are only 3 extant skull x-rays in the official collection (far fewer than Custer, Ebersole, or Jenkins has recalled), and none of them are oblique views.
David Mantik concludes his notes by saying: “My sense in listening to James Jenkins for about 90 minutes on the evening of 11/22/2013 (from about 10:40 PM to 12:10 AM the next day) was the same as William Law---i.e., James Jenkins seemed totally alert and aware. I had also listened to James Jenkins during the afternoon session, which was at least 45 minutes. James Jenkins seemed very sincere and forthright, sometimes admitting that he did not recall certain items. His demeanor was serious, sometimes even somber, and his responses seemed very considered, as he often took time to gather his thoughts before speaking.”
The appearance of James Curtis Jenkins at the Lancer conference on the 50th anniversary was a significant event, and we are all fortunate that Dr. Mantik was present to take such a thorough set of notes. Jenkins’ comments confirm, once and for all, that the principal problem with the Bethesda autopsy was not the incompetence of the pathologists---although the two Navy pathologists, Humes and Boswell, did demonstrate incompetence in the way they executed (or failed to execute) some procedures---rather, the principal problem with the Bethesda autopsy on President Kennedy was cover-up---the intentional cover-up of all evidence of shots from the front. END