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THE TWO CASKETS:

Horne then showed a page from the HSCA's interview of Paul O'Connor.(MD 64).

 

"O'Connor said that the casket that arrived was a pink shipping casket. He [O'Connor] said that the body was in a body bag and the head was wrapped in a sheet. He recalls seeing a massive head wound and a gaping wound in the neck. O'Connor said he was shocked at what he saw. He said the head had nothing left in the cranium but splattered brain matter."

Remember the casket that left Dallas was an 800 pound plus bronze casket. O'Connor has consistently stated at Bethesda JFK was in a cheap pinkish grey shipping casket--and it arrives at Bethesda in a body bag whereas it left Parkland in sheets.

 metal casket 

 bronze casket

  a metal shipping casket   a bronze ceremonial casket

Horne read an O'Connor statement, "There was no use in me opening up the skull because there was no brains." It was O'Connor's job to do the craineotomy and remove the brains and that was not even required.

Horne then showed a "first call sheet" prepared by Gawler's Funeral Home (MD129). They got this document from Joe Hagan, the supervisor of the embalming team. It clearly states: "Body removed from metal shipping casket at U.S. Naval Hospital at Bethesda." Hagan could not recall to the ARRB if the team decided that themselves or if they were told that by someone at Bethesda.

MD 129

  MD 129
Horne showed a document prepared by Robert Bouck of the Secret Service. (MD119) (See Weisberg's "Post Mortem" p. 527) One receipt dated November 22, 1963 for bed sheet, surgical drapes, and shroud used to cover the body in transit. Horne finds that "surgical drapes and a shroud" interesting. Could the shroud be the body bag? Do surgical drapes imply some kind of surgery? According to some witnesses at Bethesda, they've got the body arriving in a shipping casket, and in a different wrapping.

Do we have different times in the record for different casket arrivals?

Yes.

We have three different documented casket arrivals now in official documents, not two, three.

Arrival # 1 around 6:40 - 6:45 p.m.

Dennis David has stated he saw a shipping casket arrive and helped take it out of a black hearse at the back of the Bethesda morgue, taking it into the anteroom at about 6:40 p.m. Horne then read a paragraph from his interview with Dennis David (MD177),

"At about 6:30 p.m. Mr. David said he received a telephone call in which someone told him, 'Your visitor is on his way. You will need some people to off-load.' He then got his duty sailors together, borrowed some orphans from the dental school and assembled them outside the loading dock by about 6:40 p.m. 5 or 6 minutes later at about 6:45 p.m. he said that a black hearse drove up to the morgue loading dock. The driver and the person riding shotgun, ie. the front seat passenger, were wearing operating room smocks: white gowns. Four or five men in blue suits whom he assumed were federal agents exited the back of the hearse and supervised and observed while the approximately 7 or 8 Navy sailors working for him off-loaded the casket from the hearse. He said it was a simple grey metal shipping casket such as he frequently saw used later during the Vietnam war. His group of sailors took the casket into the anteroom directly adjacent to the morgue. He then dismissed them and went back upstairs to an administrative office on the second floor of the tower building out front toward the lobby."


Some time later, David Lifton became aware of a man named Donald Rebentisch who was one of these 7 or 8 sailors who under Dennis David's direction who carried a shipping casket from a black hearse into the anteroom of the morgue. And in fact, Dennis David was later stationed with Donald Rebentisch [in Vietnam?], they didn't realize what they had participated in this night until years later. Only recently did we find documentary evidence of this event.

Researcher Kathy Cunningham was kind enough to send the ARRB a lead that she had located, a Roger Boyajian, former Marine Guard, the head of the Marine Guard Unit that guarded the morgue during the autopsy. These are not ceremonial guards, this is security, these guys are from Marine barracks. They carry guns. The real deal.

Boyajian wrote a letter to Horne that reads: "One thing bothering me is that I can't recall seeing the casket arrive, yet I state in the report that it arrived at 1830 hours."(MD 236) A document dated November 26, 1963 by Boyijain to Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Institute Company states, "At approximately 1835 the casket was received at the morgue entrance and taken inside." Very interesting, as the motorcade from Andrews Air Force Base allegedly carrying JFK in a ceremonial casket in a light color Navy ambulance doesn't arrive at Bethesda until about 6:55 p.m. and it sat outside Bethesda's front entrance until about 7:15 p.m. and didn't arrive at the back until about 7:17 p.m.

Arrival #2 around 7:15 p.m.

Horne then showed a document prepared by Sibert and O'Neill right after they were interviewed by Arlen Specter (MD153). They went back to the FBI and recorded how that interview went with Specter. They wrote that Specter had asked them, "What was the time of the preparation of the autopsy?" They answered, "approximately 7:17 p.m."

In their depositions to the ARRB Sibert and O'Neill recalled sitting alone in front of Bethesda. Bobby Kennedy is there discussing things with Admirals and Generals. Jackie had already gone inside. Greer was sitting in the driver's seat of the grey Navy ambulance. They are in a car behind this ambulance for ten to twenty minutes. Finally, they go to Greer and ask him what is the problem, why aren't they going to the loading dock? Greer tells them he doesn't know how to get there, that Kellerman went into the hospital and he doesn't know how to find him. So they say: "We know how to find him."

They told the ARRB they took the lead position and took Greer back to the loading dock. So, Horne concluded the "approximately 7:17 p.m. estimate is accurate, and circumstantial evidence that it may indeed have been empty. If the casket that arrived at 1830, (or 6:30 p.m. for us civilians) had JFK in it then the bronze ceremonial casket must be empty."

Arrival #3 around 8:00 p.m.

Horne then showed a military casket team report written by an Lt. Byrd (MD163): "From the ambulance to the morgue at 2000 hours." So, officially the bronze casket does not go into the morgue until 8:00 p.m. This casket does have a ceremonial guard, and the casket team does not have weapons.

Lifton interviewed X-ray technician Edward Reed in 1979 and asked him about the casket entry. Reed said the Marines brought the casket in and, "...they had guns."

Horne then had an audiotape played in two parts, beginning with Humes, then the Lifton-Reed* interview.

Gunn: "Dr. Humes, when did you first see the body of President Kennedy?"

Humes: "I didn't look at my watch, if I even had a watch on, but I would guess it was 6:45 or 7 o'clock, something like that, approximately."


Horne comments, "That's important. The Honor Guard said they took it in at 8 o,clock."

Back to the audiotape:

Lifton: "Were you there when the actual body arrived? Okay, could you just tell me because they are trying to determine who was in the room and where that was, was it down in the morgue? Was it inside the room, did you meet it at the loading dock or what?"


(*It is hard to hear Reed's taped voice clearly, so I have to summarize what he stated.) Reed says the Marines brought the casket in. Marines. Marines with guns, about 10 of them.

Horne then showed Boyajain's letter to him (MD 236. Letter dated Sept. 10, 1997) He says, "I think I split the detail initially, sending 7 men to meet the ambulance and taking the remainder with me to set up security posts within the corridors." Horne thinks these 7 or 10 Marines are the Marines Ed Reed saw, and Horne thinks they took the casket from the anteroom where the sailors put it down into the morgue. So, we have this strange break in the chain of custody.

Do we have any evidence that the body might have been altered? Yes.

The Sibert and O'Neill report, page 3 (MD44; report pages 1 2 3 4 5)

"...following the removal of the wrapping it was ascertained that the President's clothing had been removed and 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."

Horne pointed out that in 1966 the FBI conducted a number of interviews of Sibert and O'Neill. The FBI ascertained from these two agents that those comments were direct quotes from Dr. Humes.

Horne then referred to Roy Kellerman's testimony to Specter (MD 55, starts with Kellerman's WC testimony on p. 61; "this was removed" is on p. 81) describing the head wound as circular, about 5 inches, and "This was removed." Specter asked what he meant by that. Kellerman responded, "This part was removed." Specter responds, "Alright." To which Horne laughed at Specter's lack of understanding.

Specter: "When you say removed, by that do you mean it was absent when you saw him, or taken out by the doctor?"

Kellerman: "Absent when I saw him. (Also, on p. 81 MD 55) Sibert and O'Neill both reaffirmed to the ARRB that Humes said what they wrote: "...surgery of the head..."

To the HSCA both Sibert and O'Neill described their entry with the casket at the rear at about 7:17 p.m. It was only Sibert, O'Neill, Greer and Kellerman. No Marines. No Honor Guard.

To the ARRB O'Neill added the Honor Guard, but Horne found that hard to believe. O'Neill did not state that in 1977. Horne referred to this as the second casket entry.

Horne then read a comment Dr. Boswell told Purdy of the HSCA in 1977,

"We got ourselves in dutch with the neck and throat wounds with regard to the Secret Service." (MD 26 p. 4)
Dr. Boswell did not give any kind of a satisfactory answer to what that meant to the ARRB.

 


 

Continued on part three: THE ROCHESTER AUTOPSY PHOTOS AND X-RAYS

Part One

Part Two a

Part Two b

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

joebackes@aol.com

 

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