The Case for a Bunched Jacket

Part Three

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Jim Towner took the following photograph as the presidential limo rounded the corner between Houston and Elm Sts. John Kennedy's jacket can be seen to rise up and around the jacket collar at the back of the neck. Further, the shirt and jacket collars converge at a point that is about even with the bottom of Kennedy's ears. The following photo compilation has Towner #2 on the left, and another on the right taken from a similar, slightly higher, viewpoint.

The Towner photograph clearly shows the President's jacket was elevated as the limousine turned onto Elm. St.

Next is Willis #4.

This photograph was taken approximately 2 seconds after Towner #2. The photograph is lacking in detail, yet the shirt collar appears abnormally large. This is probably due to the blur caused by the incorrect panning on the part of Mr. Willis.

Robert Croft exposed one of the most important photographs in the period relating to John Kennedy's assassination.

This photograph, his third of the day, was taken at the same instant as Zapruder Frame 161 (Z-161) and 3.49 seconds before JFK emerges from behind the Stemmons freeway sign in obvious distress at Z-225. As you can see in the following close-up of the Croft photograph, the jacket is elevated to the level of JFK's ear.

Compare the bunching evidenced in the Croft photograph to the smooth orientation of the jacket in the profile photograph taken just after JFK disembarked Air Force One at Love Field.

The difference between the respective jacket orientations is quite obvious. Clearly, then, the Croft photograph proves that the jacket was significantly raised at a second point along Elm St.

Z-161 shows the Croft bunch as it appeared from Abraham Zapruder's viewpoint. JFK's right shoulderline is clearly elevated.

The Croft photograph demonstrates that JFK's jacket was elevated shortly before he was shot in the back. Croft #3 is not the last relevant Elm St. photograph, however. There are two other photographs that show the back of the President before he disappears from view behind the sign in the Zapruder film.

The next relevant photograph, sequentially, is Betzner #3.

Hugh Betzner snapped this photograph 1.37 seconds after Croft, and at the same moment as Z-186. The following close-up reveals that the right and left shoulderlines are markedly dissimilar. JFK's left shoulderline drops away from the neck at a shallow, relatively constant, angle. In stark contrast, the right shoulderline intersects the neck at a higher level than the left, and unlike the left shoulderline, has a distinctly arched shape.

Compare the Betzner photograph to one taken by C. Stoughton, White House photographer, on the morning of the assassination.

The difference in the appearance of the jackets is remarkable. The Betzner photograph proves that the jacket is still elevated at Z-186.

Lastly, we must consider the Willis #5 photograph. Willis #5 is the last extant photograph taken of JFK's back on Elm St before he emerges from behind the sign at Z-225. Willis #5 is most often pointed to as proof that JFK's jacket was not raised when the back wound was inflicted.

Phillip Willis took this photograph at Z-202, 2.24 seconds after the Croft photograph, and .874 seconds after Betzner. Clearly Willis #5 is of inferior quality as compared to Croft and Betzner. However, when Willis #5 is rotated to correct for the photographer's tilted camera, we see that the jacket shoulderline rises from left to right as it crosses the back. The right side shoulderline is still higher than the left. The jacket is still elevated.

If you follow JFK's actions in the Z-film after Z-161, you will see that the only post-Croft/Z-161 posture change by the President before he disappears behind the sign is a clockwise head rotation and an upper arm rotation of about 20-40 degrees.

Did either of these actions alleviate the bunch in the jacket? My experimentation has shown that the answer is no, they could not have. The photographic record bears this out as well. Only leaning forward and lowering the elbow could unpin the jacket, allowing it to fall. JFK does nothing of the sort in the Z-film. Further, the following photograph shows the jacket severely bunched while JFK is in a position very similar to that seen in the Zapruder film at Betzner #3/Z-186. I have provided a photo of JFK standing for comparison purposes.

As we have seen, none of JFK's actions in the Zapruder film could alleviate the bunching of the jacket. If we watch the Zapruder film between Croft (Z-161) and Betzner (Z-186) and Willis (Z-202) and Z-225, we see that JFK does nothing in the intervening 3.50 seconds to force the jacket back down. After JFK emerges from behind the sign, he is seen raising his elbows even further. This action could only exacerbate the jacket elevation. It seems highly improbable, in fact just short of impossible, that while he was behind the sign, JFK lowered his arm from the side of the limousine (thus lowering the jacket) was shot in the back, then raised his arm again in time for that arm to be in the position seen at Z-225.

Every Dallas motorcade film or photograph I have seen shows the jacket to be elevated. A film taken by Dave Powers, who was riding in the Secret Service back-up car just behind the President, shows JFK's jacket elevated even as the motorcade begins and remains so throughout the ride through Dallas.

I have searched in vain for a Dallas motorcade photograph that shows JFK's jacket in the normal and smooth configuration we see in the Love Field profile photograph. The fact that I have not been able to find one single motorcade photo devoid of bunching is remarkable. Even more remarkable is the fact that I have made numerous queries of the JFK assassination research community for just such a photograph, without success.

The photographic record shows that John Kennedy's jacket was severely bunched at the base of the neck throughout the Dallas motorcade right up until, and including, the moment he was shot in the back. Some of the eyewitness testimony that we have examined is in direct conflict with that photographic record. If that photographic record were even slightly ambiguous about the condition of John Kennedy's jacket, and thus his shirt, the eyewitness testimony would carry more weight. That is not the case, however. Ultimately, the photographs trump the eyewitnesses.

In the final analysis, the compelling photographic record constitutes proof that John Kennedy's jacket was raised when he was shot in the back. As a direct result, the "low" bullet holes in John Kennedy's shirt and jacket are not accurate indicators of the entry location, which must have been higher.

Article and graphics © 1999, 2002 John Hunt, Jr.

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