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The John F. Kennedy assassination: Four unanswered questions

The Kennedy assassination, a pivotal moment in American life, has fascinated historians, conspiracy theorists, and filmmakers, among others. Some questions might never be answered.

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In addition, JFK and Connally were hit at almost the same instant, according to evidence from the famous Zapruder film of the event. Oswald could not have fired fast enough to hit them with two shots. If the single “magic” bullet did not do the damage, a second shooter must have done it, some experts on the assassination say.

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Defenders of the single bullet theory point out that it appears from photographic evidence that Connally was not sitting directly in front of JFK. He was positioned to the inside of the car, and Kennedy was nearer the door, meaning the bullet did not in fact have to swerve in mid-air.

Was JFK’s coat bunched up over his shoulders?

This question is related to the single bullet question, above. JFK’s suit coat had a hole in it about 5 inches below the collar. Many conspiracy theorists argue that this is too low for Oswald to have caused, given the bullet’s subsequent path, as Oswald was shooting from the heights of the Texas Book Depository.

However, other investigators, such as Marquette University political science professor John McAdams, have argued that photographic evidence indicates that JFK’s suit coat was bunched up around his neck, allowing the geometry to work in this case.

Was there a second gunman on the grassy knoll?

The famous grassy knoll of the JFK assassination is a small, sloping hill inside Dealey Plaza, the small park the president’s limo was passing when Oswald fired. Many have theorized it would have been a perfect place to hide a second gunman.

In 1979, the US House Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report concluding that Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy, although members ruled out the involvement of Cuba, the Soviet Union, and the Mafia in the crime. They based their conclusion in part on the evidence of a Dictabelt recording of the event. This recording, judged panel members, indicates that there were four shots, not three, as the Warren Commission concluded – and that one of these shots came from the area of the grassy knoll.

Since then the Dictabelt evidence, which is alleged to be the recording of a police radio positioned along JFK’s route, has been the subject of great debate. Some scientists have concluded that the “fourth shot” is in fact just static. Others have pointed out that the faint crosstalk on the recording appears to indicate that it was made before JFK entered the Dealey Plaza area.

Are the Oswald backyard photographs authentic?

Some of the most famous evidence linking Lee Harvey Oswald to the JFK assassination is a series of photographs of Mr. Oswald taken in his backyard in which he holds up Marxist newspapers and a Carcano rifle – a rifle whose markings match those on the Carcano rifle found in the Texas Book Depository after the killing.

Interrogated before he, in turn, was shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby, Oswald insisted the photos were fake. But Oswald’s estranged wife Marina testified that she had taken them. The House Select Committee subjected them to extensive analysis and concluded they were genuine.

That has not stopped some conspiracy theorists from pointing to Oswald’s denial, and saying he was right.


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