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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Dr. David Mantik Admits Elmer Todd's Initials are on CE 399!

Dr. David Mantik has sent a response to researcher Paul Hoch in which he admits that Steve Roe was right -- that Elmer Todd's initials are indeed on CE 399.

Here is a link to Steve Roe's ground-breaking article on CE 399. He was the first researcher to find proof that Elmer Todd did initial the bullet.

Here is Dr. David Mantik's response in full:

CE-399: A Response to Steve Roe

by David W. Mantik

June 13, 2022

Here is the Roe article in question: 11 June 2022

A Single Photograph Disproves Oliver Stone’s Conspiracy Claim

The Unfounded Attack on CE 399’s Chain of Custody

By Steve Roe

First, kudos to Mr. Roe for introducing new evidence into the JFK case—he has located NIST images at NARA (from 2015-2016) that show the initials of Elmer Lee Todd on CE-399:

In June 1995, another Steve (an astronomer, who regularly views faint stars in photographic films) and I did not see Todd’s initials on CE-399. We did not exult at our apparent discovery—nor we did not report this to any third parties; furthermore, my still-available notebook contains no exclamation points. Consistent with our sober efforts, we also confirmed that the lands and grooves matched the claims of the Warren Commission—although previously published images had suggested otherwise.

I suspect that if we returned to NARA today, we might well not immediately spot Todd’s initials. After all, without bright lighting (which we did not use) or without glancing at them via multiple angles (which we surely did), they are indeed rather faint and difficult to see, especially compared to the other 3 sets of initials. Although a loupe might have been useful that day, I do not recall that we used one. After all, my own extreme myopia in 1995 made a loupe almost redundant.

That this is a challenging task has been confirmed by John Hunt’s similar conclusions (Figure 1). [Unfortunately, the pertinent website seems inactive at present, although I have accessed it within the past year.]

Figure 1. Images from John Hunt at

The reader can try his or her own eyes by viewing Figure 2A, which contains an online image (of 8 total images) from photos.html ( Note that various magnifications and perspective are illustrated at that website (accessed June 15, 2022). For more options, see Figures 2B and 2C.

The NIST images are at Figures 3 and 4 below (the latter is a magnified view).

For comparison, the NIST images for Robert Frazier’s initials are at Figures 5 and 6 (the latter is a magnified view).

Figure 2A: Photo Set: NARA Evidence Photos: "Magic bullet"

Figure 2C. CE 399: Bullet found on stretcher at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, Tex. (see 17 WH 49, introduced at 2 WH 374)

Figure 3. NIST image of Todd’s initials (ET)

Figure 4. NIST image (magnified) of Todd’s initials

Figure 5. NIST image of Robert Frazier’s initials

Figure 6. NIST image (magnified) of Robert Frazier’s initials

So, has CE-399 now suddenly become legitimate? Well, that seems unlikely, but the reader can judge for him/herself by reviewing the following essays.

Then there is the matter of a different bullet described by one of the 1963 White House physicians, Captain James Morningstar Young, MD. This bullet was not reported at all by the Warren Commission—nor was it discussed by Steve Roe. It is, however, discussed in more detail in my forthcoming hardcover book, JFK Assassination Paradoxes. We now know that at least five individuals may all have described the same bullet: Young, Mills, Martinelli, Osborne, and Stover. Even the autopsy radiology technician, Jerrol Custer, may have seen it.

In conclusion, my apologies to JFK researchers for not seeing those ET initials in 1995—and I would congratulate Steve Roe for following da Vinci’s advice:

Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman also agrees with da Vinci:

Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.

In that case, perhaps Steve Roe will next pay attention to my optical density data [“my own findings”], taken directly from the extant JFK X-rays.


Dr. Mantik put in a bad link to the original John Hunt article.

I find it interesting that Dr. Mantik did not use any magnifying equipment when he was examining CE 399 at the National Archives.

But it is heartening to have somebody who appeared in JFK: Destiny Betrayed admit that he was in error and to admit it graciously.

Other responses to Steve Roe's article have been as anticipated. Matt Douthit claimed that he couldn't see Todd's initials:

Not only are the initials there, but the E and the T "look mighty big." Perhaps added later?

What next? A claim that the initials “ET” were added recently to CE 399, after Hunt, Mantik and Stone noted their absence? Such a theory would have to explain how it was that in 1996—10 years before Hunt’s first article—Tammi S. Long, an ARRB attorney/analyst, specifically noted the presence of Todd’s initials on CE 399 in her review of the chain of custody. Long wrote,
. . . SA Johnson [sic] gave the bullet to James Rowley, Chief, USSS, on 11/22/63 upon his return to Washington, DC. Chief Rowley gave the bullet to [FBI] SA Elmer Todd (Todd marked it with his initials), 11/22/63 . . . . SA Todd gave the bullet to SA Frazier at the FBI lab . . . . I can personally verify that I have seen the item identified as CE 399 in the National Archives, JFK Collection, at College Park, Maryland. On April 23, 1996 . . . . I was able to descern [sic] the initials representing the chain of custody [emphasis added] of item CE 399.[8]
Stone and DiEugenio, who claim to stay abreast of all the latest assassination-related research, should have known about the landmark NARA/NIST effort and could have fact-checked Hunt’s and Mantik’s claims about missing initials. That they did not bother tells everyone all they need to know about their spurious documentary.

Of course, NIST does not say it was there.

The photos are taken from slightly different angles. The photo in the Roe article was taken with the bullet tilted slightly away from the camera, so as to accentuate the gouge at the top of the bullet. The photo in Hunt's article, on the other hand was taken with the bullet flat to the camera. Even so, one can see that the ET in the Roe photo starts beneath the gouge at the top of the bullet and runs towards a nick on its right side. When one looks at this location in the Hunt photo, moreover, one can make out a blurry ET in this exact same location. As shown below...
(And no, it's not remotely surprising to me that no one noticed this before. Keep in mind that I got sucked into this rabbit hole because nobody had acknowledged an obvious bullet hole in the so-called mystery photo, and that I was also able to locate the EOP entry hole in the back of the head photos. People don't see what they don't want to see--and it's usually because they look in the wrong location.)

All of this showcases the poverty of imagination in JFK: Destiny Betrayed. They didn't check, or question themselves about, much of anything in their so-called documentary.

Oliver Stone suffers from a failure in imagination. Yes, he can imagine a massive conspiracy and coverup. But he cannot imagine any sort of non-conspiratorial explanations for any of the suspicious pieces of evidence in his film.

Thank you, Steve Roe, for performing an act of real research. And thank you to Dr. David Mantik for realizing the importance of Steve Roe's discovery.

Over the past several months, I have shown in multiple blog posts how Oliver Stone's documentary series, JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers. In fact, despite months of work, there are still many more misleading segments that need to be addressed. It's no wonder that the fact checkers of Netflix nixed the airing of the films.

There is a choice between four hours of tendentious nonsense (JFK: Destiny Betrayed) and two hours (JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass). As a handy guide for viewers, here are all those posts in order of their appearance in JFK: Destiny Betrayed and JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, preceded by some general critiques.


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