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Comments from Allan Eaglesham

I am struck by Frank O'Neill's rejection -- without question -- of the single-bullet theory (SBT) while endorsing the verdict of the Warren Commission that Lee Oswald acted alone, ignoring the fact that the single-bullet theory is the sine qua non of the Warren Report. Either Mr. O'Neill doesn't understand the case or, ostrich like, he hoped that those hearing his words didn't understand the case. Why was Arlen Specter (in O'Neill's words) "pressing, pressing, pressing for the single-bullet theory"? Simply because, without it, the assassin could not have acted alone.

O'Neill's reasons for rejecting the SBT are sound:

  • The president could not have said the words reported by Roy Kellerman if a bullet had passed through his throat.
  • The back wound was shallow. Its depth was determined not only digitally (as described here) but by use of a metal probe (Mr. O'Neill to the ARRB).
  • (When FBI Agent James Sibert reported to the autopsy doctors that a bullet had been found on a stretcher at Parkland Nemorial Hospital, Dallas, the logical conclusion was drawn that the shallow back resulted from that bullet. Not until later was the back wound linked to the throat wound -- without any forensic basis.)


    Mr. O'Neill is of the opinion that it is "logical" to deduce that the throat wound was caused by an exiting "something." It's interesting that he demands that other theory be proven in court before he'll consider it, yet, in this instance, he relies on a deduction for which there is no evidence.


    I interpret his statement that the casket he helped to unload was NOT ornamental as a slip of the tongue.


    Mr. O'Neill emphasizes that the body showed no indication of a shot from the front. Yet one of the autopsy photographs shows a vee-shaped excision of scalp close to where Malcolm Kilduff indicated the fatal bullet entry. O'Neill told the ARRB that he recalled the "torn scalp," although he preferred to interpret it as blood (which, in my opinion, is untenable). This vee-shaped loss of forehead skin and scalp provides a logical explanation for the early observation of "surgery of the head area" by one of the autopsy doctors.

    One bullet lodged in the back, one bullet to the throat, one bullet to the front of the head, one bullet into Governor Connally, and one bullet that missed: I make that at least five.


    For me, Mr. O'Neill's most suprising words to the Franklin Pierce students were:

    "At that time, it [the body] was in sort of a plastic-type container because, after they took that off the body was wrapped in a sheet -- another sheet..."

    He is saying that the body had to be taken out of a plastic container -- the body wasn't visible until the "plastic-type container" had been removed. Mr. O'Neill's words appear to corroborate autopsy technician Paul O'Connor's contention that President Kennedy's body was in a plastic body bag when it arrived in the autopsy room (whereas it had not been placed in a body bag at Parkland).

    Here is the coverage of this issue during Mr. O'Neill's ARRB deposition:

    Q: Okay. Can you describe what you saw when the casket was opened?

    O'Neill: Yes, to the best of my recollection now. You couldn't miss the body which was in there. Around the head of the body was a very, very bloody sheet. Around the body itself was another sheet with blood.

    The body itself in these sheets was on another plastic type of a material, which we could only assume was placed under the body to prevent it from oozing blood all over the inside of the casket.

    A couple of things are striking here. First, " the best of my recollection..." It seems to me that if I were in Mr. O'Neill's shoes the memory of the opening of a dead president's casket would be imprinted indellibly in my memory bank. Second: "You couldn't miss the body which was in there." How many items did he expect to see when the lid was removed? Or is he implying that it wasn't obviously President Kennedy? Third, "The body...was on another plastic type of material..." ANOTHER plastic type of material? That seems an odd choice of word.

    When he interviewed Mr. O'Neill for his book In the Eye of History, William Law did not raise this issue, but Jim Sibert made it very clear to Law that he saw no body bag.

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