April 22, 1964 MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD FROM: Melvin A. Eisenberg Subject: Conference of April 14, 1964, to determine which frames in the Zapruder movies show the impact of the first and second bullets --------------------------------------------------------- On April 14, 1964, a conference was held to determine which frames in the Zapruder film portray the instants at which the first and second bullets struck. Present were: Commander James J. Humes, Director of Laboratories of the Naval Medical School, Bethesda, Maryland; Commander J. Thorton Boswell, Chief Pathologist, Naval Medical School, Bethesda; Lt. Col. Pierre A. Finck, Chief of Wound Ballistics Pathology Branch, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; Dr. F.W. Light, Jr. Deputy Chief of the Biophysics Division at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, and Chief of the Wound Assessment Branch of the Biophysics Division; Dr. Oliver, Chief of the Wound Ballistics Branch of the Biophysics Division at Edgewood Arsenal; Messrs. Malley, Gauthier, Shaneyfelt, and two other unidentified agents of the FBI; Messrs. Kelley and Howlett of the Secret Service; and Messrs. Redlich, Specter and Eisenberg of the Commission staff. A screening was held of the Zapruder film and of slides prepared by LIFE from the film. Each slide corresponded with a separate frame of film, beginning with frame 171. The consensus of the meeting was as follows: (a) The President had been definitely hit by frames 224-225, when he emerges from behind a sign with his hands clutching his throat. (b) The reaction shown in frames 224-225 may have started at an earlier point - possibly as early as frame 199 (when there appears to be some jerkiness in his movement) or, with a higher degree of possibility, at frames 204-206 (where his right elbow appears to be raised to an artificially high position). (c) If the reaction did not begin at 199 or 204-206, it probably began during the range of frames during which the President is hidden from Zapruder's camera by a sign, namely, frames 215-24. cc: Mr. Rankin Mr Belin Mr. Willens Mr. Specter Mr. Redlich Mr. Eisenberg Mr. Ball Page Two-------------------------------------------------- (d) The President may have been struck by the first bullet as much as two seconds before any visible reaction began. In all likelihood, however, the maximum delay between impact and reaction would be under one second, and it is possible that the reaction was instantaneous. Putting this in terms of frames, the President may have been struck as much as 36 frames before any visible reaction is seen. If the visible reaction begins at 199, the President may have been struck as early as 163; if the visible reaction begins at 204-206, he may have been struck as early as 168-170; if the visible reaction begins while the President is behind the sign, he may have been struck as early as 179-188. (e) The velocity of the first bullet would have been little diminished by its passage through the President. Therefore, if Governor Connally was in the path of the bullet it would have struck him and (probably) caused the wounds he sustained in his chest cavity. Strong indications that this occurred are provided by the facts that (1) the bullet recovered from Governor Connally's stretcher does not appear to have penetrated a wrist and (2) if the first bullet did not hit Governor Connally, it should have ripped up the car, but apparently did not. Since the bullet recovered from the Governor's stretcher does not appear to have penetrated a wrist, if he was hit by this (the first) bullet, he was probably also hit by the second bullet. (f) If Governor Connally was hit by the first and second bullets, it is impossible to say definitively at what point, or by what point, he had been hit by the second bullet. (g) Governor Connally seems to straighten up at frames 224-226, and may be reacting to a wound at this point. (If so, it would be a wound from the first bullet). (h) Governor Connally seems to begin showing an expression of anguish around 242. If he was hit with two bullets, this expression may have resulted from his second wound. (i) After Governor Connally straightened up at frames 224-26, he starts to turn to the right. As a result of this turn, at no time after frame 236 was Governor Connally in a position such that a bullet fired from the probable Page 3---------------------------------------------------- site of the assassin would have caused the wound in his chest cavity which Governor Connally sustained--that is, after frame 236, the Governor presented a side view to the assassin rather than a back view.* (j) It is not possible to say whether prior to 236 Governor Connally was ever in a position such that one bullet could have caused the five wounds he sustained. (k) As in the case of the President, Governor Connally could have conceivably been hit two seconds before he begins to react, but the maximum likely time interval between hit and reaction is one second, and the reaction may have been instantaneous. The likelihood of an instantaneous reaction is particularly great in regard to the wrist wound, since pain is usually felt more quickly in a limb than in the torso. */ Mr. Specter disagrees with this, and feels the Governor was in position to receive the chest wound up to 242. ---------------------------------------------------------- April 22, 1964 MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD FROM: Melvin A. Eisenberg SUBJECT: Conference of April 21, 1964, to determine which frames in the Zapruder movies show the impact of the first and second bullets. ---------------------------------------------------------- On Tuesday, April 21, 1964, a conference was held to determine which frames in the Zapruder film portray the instants at which the first and second bullets struck. Present were: Dr. F.W. Light, Jr., Deputy Chief of the Biophysics Division and Chief of the Wound Assessment Branch of the Biophysics Division at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland; Dr. Oliver, Chief of the Wound Ballistics Branch of the Biophysics Division at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland; Dr. Joseph Dolce, Consultant to the Biophysics Division at Edgewood Arsenal; Dr. Charles F. Gregory and Dr. Robert Shaw of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Texas; Messrs. Geuthier, Shaneyfelt, and one other unidentified agent of the FBI; and Messrs. Redlich, Spector, Belin and Eisenberg. Later in the proceedings, Governor and Mrs. Connally, Mr. Rankin and Mr. McCloy joined the conference. A screening was held of the Zapruder film and of slides prepared by LIFE from the films. Each slide corresponded with a separate frame of film, beginning with frame 171. The consensus of the meeting was as follows: (a) The President had been definitely hit by frame 224-225 when he emerges from behind a sign with his hands clutching at his throat. (b) After the Governor Connally straightened up at frames 224-225 he starts to turn to the right. As a result of this turn, at no time after frame 236 was Governor Connally in a position such that a bullet fired from the probable site of the assassin would have caused the wound in the chest cavity which Governor Connally sustained -- that is, after frame 236 the Governor presented a side view to the assassin rather than a back view.(1) (1) Mr. Specter disagrees. Page 2------------------------------------------------- (c) In many frames up to 250, the Governor's wrist is held in a position which exposed him to the type of wrist wounds he actually received. (d) After viewing the films and slides, the Governor was of the opinion that he had been hit by frame 231. (e) The Governor stated that after being hit, he looked to his right, looked to his left, and then turned to his right. He felt the President might have been hit by frame 190. He heard only two shots and felt sure that the shots he heard were the first and third shots. He is positive that he was hit after he heard the first shot, i.e., by the second shot, and by that shot only. In a discussion after the conference, Drs. Light and Dolce expressed themselves as being very strongly of the opinion that Connally had been hit by two different bullets, principally on the ground that the bullet recovered from Connally's stretcher could not have broken his radius without having suffered more distortion. Dr. Oliver withheld a conclusion until he has had the opportunity to make tests on animal tissue and bone with the actual rifle. ------------------------------------------------------ April 24, 1964 MEMORANDUM TO: Messrs. Redlich, Specter, Belin FROM: Melvin A Eisenberg SUBJECT: Determination of the Trajectories of the Three Shots 1. My memos of the conferences of April 14, 1964, and April 21, 1964, designate the frames in the Zapruder film which portray or may portray the impact of the first and second bullets. My memo of earlier conferences designated the frames in the Zapruder, Nix, and Muchmore films which portray the impact of the third shot. In order to translate these determinations into actual distances, it appears to me to be necessary to go to Dallas. 2. The first step to take in Dallas is to place viewfinders on the spots at which Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore were standing, and place a replica car, bearing six occupants on Elm Street. The replica car should then be positioned so that, viewed through the viewfinders, the relationship between the actual car and the landmarks on November 22, as shown in the designated frames. 3. Pictures should be made showing the car (positioned under paragraph 2) from the following vantage points: (a) the spots at which the photographers were standing; (b) a point in the TSBD approximating the point at which the muzzle of the rifle was located; and (c) several point on the overpass. Still pictures, and moving pictures taken through the cameras actually used by Zapruder, Nix, and Muchmore should be taken from vantage point (a). Two sets of still pictures, one through a 4x telescopic sight, should be taken from vantage points (b) and (c). 4. Tapes should then be laid on Elm Street over the points or ranges at which the President and Governor were located when the three shots struck. Each tape should be marked to show every designated frame, and at the first tape should also be marked at the point where the President first became visible from vantage point (b) after emerging from behind the tree. On-the-street measurements should then be taken of the distances (i) from the marked points on each tape to the marked points on every other tape and (ii) from the marked points on each tape to the mid-point of a line connecting the southeast and southwest curbs of Elm street. 5. The position of the tapes and all marked points thereon should then be mapped on a survey, and the lengths of the various possible trajectories should be measured by the surveyor on a trigonometric basis, measuring from the point at which the muzzle was probably located to the beginning, end, and marked points of each tape. The surveyor should also determine the angle each trajectory makes with the horizontal. Copies of the surveyor's work-sheets and calculations should be sent to us. 6. The steps outlined herein are not to be deemed as exclusive. In particular, an attempt should be made to photograph various relative positions of the persons simulating the President and Governor Connally with a view to determining whether the first bullet probably did or did not hit the Governor as well as the President. -------------------------------------------------------------------- April 27, 1964 MEMORANDUM TO: J. Lee Rankin FROM: Norman Redlich The purpose of this memorandum is to explain the reasons why certain members of the staff feel that it is important to take certain on-site photographs in connection with the location of the approximate points at which the three bullets struck the occupants of the Presidential limousine. Our report presumably will state that the President was hit by the first bullet, Governor Connally by the second, and the President by the third and fatal bullet. The report will also conclude that the bullets were fired by one person located in the sixth floor southeast corner window of the TSBD building. As our investigation now stands, however, we have not shown that these events could possibly have occurred in the manner suggested above. All we have is a reasonable hypothesis which appears to be supported by the medical testimony but which has not been checked out against the physical facts at the scene of the assassination. Our examination of the Zapruder films shows that the fatal third shot struck the President at a point which we can locate with reasonable accuracy on the ground. We can do this because we know the exact frame (no. 313) in the film at which the third shot hit the President and we know the location of the photographer. By lining up fixed objects in the movie frame where this shot occurs we feel that we have determined the approximate location of this shot. This can be verified by a photo of the same spot from the point where Zapruder was standing. We have the testimony of Governor and Mrs. Connally that the Governor was hit with the second bullet at a point which we probably cannot fix with precision. We feel we have established, however, with the help of medical testimony, that the shot which hit the Governor did not come after frame 240 on the Zapruder film. The governor feels that it came around 230, which is certainly consistent with our observations of the film and with the doctor's testimony. Since the President was shot at frame 313, this would leave a time of at least 4 seconds between the two shots, certainly ample for even an inexperienced marksman. Prior to our last viewing of the films with Governor Connally we had assumed that the President was hit while he was concealed behind the sign which occurs between frames 215-225. We have expert testimony to the effect that a skilled marksman would require a minimum 2 seconds between shots with this rifle. Since the camera operates at 18 1/3 frames per second, there would have to be a minimum of 40 frames between shots. It is apparent, therefore, that if Governor Connally was even as late as frame 240, the President would have to have been hit no later than frame 190 and probably even earlier. We have not yet examined the assassination scene to determine whether the assassin in fact could have shot the President prior to frame 190. We could locate the position on the ground which corresponds to this frame and it would then be our intent to establish by photography that the assassin would have fired the first shot at the President prior to this point. Our intention is not to establish the point with complete accuracy, but merely to substantiate the hypothesis which underlies the conclusions that Oswald was the sole assassin. I had always assumed that our final report would be accompanied by a surveyor's diagram which would indicate the approximate location of the three shots. We certainly cannot prepare such a diagram without establishing that we are describing an occurrence which is physically possible. Our failure to do this will, in my opinion, place this Report in jeopardy since it is a certainty that others will examine the Zapruder films and raise the same questions which have been raised by our examination of the films. If we do not attempt to answer these observable facts, others may answer them with facts which challenge our most basic assumptions, or with fanciful theories based on our unwillingness to test our assumptions by the investigatory methods available to us. I should add that the facts which we now have in our possession, submitted to us in separate reports from the FBI and Secret Service, are totally incorrect and, if left uncorrected, will present a completely misleading picture. It may well be that this project should be undertaken by the FBI and Secret Service with our assistance instead of being done as a staff project. The important thing is that the project be undertaken expeditiously. -------------------------------------------------------------------- May 7, 1964 Mr. J. Edgar Hoover Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation Department of Justice Washington, D.C. 20535 Dear Mr. Hoover, This commission has been making a careful study of the various motion picture films taken at the scene of the assassination. In this project we have had the valuable assistance of members your Bureau, particularly Inspector James Malley, Inspector Leo Gauthier and Special Agent Lyndal A. Shaneyfelt. As a result of the information obtained from these films, the Commission would like the cooperation of your Bureau in the performance of certain additional investigation at the scene of the assassination. I will personally be available to supervise this work and will have such other staff members present as may be deemed necessary. We would hope to be able to perform this work in Dallas on May 18 and May 19. The purpose of this letter is to set forth the steps which we feel are necessary to properly complete this project. I. PROBABLE RANGES FROM WHICH FIRST TWO SHOTS OCCURRED Our examination of the Zapruder films indicates that Governor Connally was hit at some point prior to frame 240. (All references to frames in the Zapruder films are on the basis of a numbering system worked out with the FBI personnel who have been working on this project). Doctors familiar with the Governor's wounds concluded that after frame 236 his body was not in a position to have received the wound from a projectile fired from the sixth floor southeast corner window of the Texas School Book Depository Building. The Governor feels he was hit at approximately frame 230; some members of our staff feel that it could have been as late as frame 240. Governor and Mrs. Connally also testified that the Governor was hit by the second shot. cc: Mr. Rankin Mr. Redlich Mr. Willens The FBI laboratory examination of the Zapruder camera establishes that it operates at a speed of 18-1/3 frames per second. Weapons experts have testified that the minimum time required to operate the assassination weapon is 2-1/4 seconds. It would appear, therefore, that a minimum of 41 frames would have to elapse between the first and second shots. (18-1/3 x 2-1/4). The Commission is aware that it is impossible to determine the exact point at which the first two shots were fired. We request the following on-site investigatory steps, however, in order to determine whether it was possible for a person located on the sixth floor southeast corner window of the TSBD building to fire two shots at the Presidential car, the second of which occurred no later than frame 240: (1) A point should be marked on the road corresponding to frame 199 on the Zapruder film, which is the last point at which the assassin could have fired from the window and still have been able to fire again by frame 240. A car should be photographed on this spot from the point where Zapruder was standing so that this photograph can be compared with frame 199 to make certain that the location is accurate. This should be done with the Zapruder camera, which has been retained for this purpose. A Polaroid should also be used for immediate comparison. (2) After a car has been placed at this point on the road it should be photographed from the assassination window to determine whether the assassin had a clear shot at the occupants of the rear seat, with particular reference to the tree which at some point blocks the view from this window. (3) If the car had passed the tree at frame 199, when viewed from the window, the car should be moved forward to the point at which there is a first clear view from the window and photographed at this point from both the window and at the place where Zapruder was standing so that we may determine what frame in the Zapruder films corresponds with this location. (4) If the car has in fact passed beyond the tree at frame 199, it should be moved back to the point where it first cleared the tree and photographed from the window and the Zapruder location to establish the corresponding frame reference. (5) The car should also be placed at the point where there is the last clear shot before it goes behind the tree and photographed from the window and the Zapruder location to determine the frame reference at this point. (6) All the above points should be mapped on a survey. Lineal distances should be measured on the ground between these various points. Trigonometric readings should be taken to determine the distances from these various points to the assassination window and the surveyor should also determine the angle with the horizontal which is made when a line is plotted from each of these point to the assassination window. II. PROBABLE LOCATION OF THE THIRD SHOT Unlike shots one and two, the third shot has been fixed at a particular frame in the Zapruder films (frame 313), as well as a particular frame in the other two films (frame 24 of the Nix film and frame 42 of the Muchmore film). A car should be placed at the point which we believe to be the approximate location corresponding to these frames and then photographed from the point where the three cameramen were standing to establish the accuracy of this location. Distances should be measured from this point to the various points described in part I and angles and distances established between this point and the assassination window to establish the view which the assassin had when he fired the third shot. III. PLOTTING TRAJECTORIES FROM THE RAILROAD OVERPASS From each of the ground points established in parts I and II trigonometric readings should be taken from a point on either end of the overpass to chart the path which a bullet would travel if fired from those points on the overpass to the rear seat of the car. It should be determined whether a bullet could reach the rear seat without hitting the windshield, and the angle with the horizontal which would be made by a bullet fired from these points to a car located at each of the points to a car located at each of the points on the ground as determined in parts I and II. A copy of this letter has been sent to Chief Rowley of the Secret Service with a request that the Secret Service provide such assistance in this work as the Commission and your Bureau may require. The Secret Service has furnished the Commission with photographs, surveys, and measurements which we have used in our examination of the films and which will no doubt be useful to your Bureau in completing this project. We would like your Bureau to make all necessary arrangements for this project. Members of the Bureau assigned to this project should contact either Mr. Norman Redlich or Mr. Melvin Eisenberg of the Commission staff if additional information is required. Sincerely, J. Lee Rankin General Counsel --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEMORANDUM June 11, 1964 TO: Mr. J. Lee Rankin FROM: Arlen Specter If additional depositions are taken in Dallas, I suggest that Jim Tague, 2424 Inwood, Apartment 253, and Virgie Rackley, 405 Wood Street be deposed to determine the knowledge of each on where the missing bullet struck. These two witnesses were mentioned in the early FBI reports, but they have never been deposed.