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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Supposed Extra Bullet

Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that an extra bullet was found in JFK's limousine the evening of the assassination. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (26:05 in the third episode)

Whoopi Goldberg: As it turns out, there was an extra bullet, and it was misshapen. After the assassination, the motorcade raced to Parkland Hospital, where the emergency room doctors tried to save the President's life. After he was pronounced dead, Kennedy's personal physician, George Burkley, got in contact with his assistant, James Young, in the White House and told him to prepare for the autopsy.

Dr. Randolph Robertson: It was James Young who ordered Chiefs Mills and Martinell, their assistants, to go to the White House and retrieve what they knew were skull fragments in the limousine at that time.

Whoopi Goldberg: The Presidential limousine, while en route to Washington, was inspected, and a three-inch triangular piece of bone was discovered on the floor near the rear jump seat. During the autopsy, Young sent his two assistants to meet the limo when it arrived at the White House garage.

Dr. Randolph Robertson: And they brought back an additional envelope with the bullet with the bent tip. He described the bullet, brass-colored, about five millimeters in diameter.

Whoopi Goldberg: As part of a Naval oral history project, Jan Herman, who had interviewed Dr. Young on this subject, got in touch with Thomas Mills, one of the two man who had gone to the limo to retrieve the skull fragments.

Dr. Randolph Robertson: Jan Herman called up Mills, says "hey do you remember Dr. Young calling you, asking about this bent bullet?" He said, "yeah I remember that, him calling me, and, y'know, he remembered it." He says, "can you shed any light on it?" And he says, "I would rather not talk about that."

Oliver Stone: You know what happened to this bullet?

Dr. Randolph Robertson: It went from Mills and Martinell to Young to Humes, it disappears. That evening, there may have been as little as four people who saw that bullet before it disappeared.

Whoopi Goldberg: The reports of this extra bullet substantiate some researchers' claim that there was a fourth shot hitting the limo at Zapruder frame 328.

Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed

This started in December of 2000 when James Young wrote Gerald Ford:

Ford wrote back to Young:

Dr. Randy Robertson wrote this all up for the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC).

Young sat down for an oral history project:

You can download the interview here.

oral history with young
Download PDF • 4.45MB

Here is an excerpt from page 45 which few people discuss:

Robert Kennedy gave the orders? I don't know if this is true, but conspiracy theorists never mention this.

Young discusses sending Chiefs Mills and Martinell to the limousine: (page 51)

Young says that "the envelope contained three pieces of skull bone, one about three inches in diameter, and another two inches in diameter, and the third one about one to one and a half inches in diameter. It also contained a brass slug about half a centimeter in diameter and distorted."

My first impression upon reading this is that they found a fragment.

The 'bullet' or fragment could have been copper: (page 54)

So, what really happened here? Did Young actually see the so-called bullet? He was supposedly at Bethesda when the limousine was searched.

Dr. Gary Aguilar, Dr. Doug DeSalles, and Bill Simpich wrote a paper debunking the extra bullet.

In the early morning hours of November 23rd, FBI Agent Robert Frazier carried out a forensic examination of the limousine. He found an impact point on the interior surface of the windshield as shown in the photo at left. It was characterized by Frazier as showing both a lead smear and a crack in the rear-facing surface of the glass. During his examination, Frazier was led to two large fragments found earlier by Secret Service agents in the front seat area of the limousine. They were subsequently found to have been fired from Oswald’s rifle. One—Commission Exhibit 567—appears to be made up largely of exposed lead. These items of evidence establish a likely narrative: A bullet from the alleged Oswald rifle strikes the back of the President’s head, sending fragments into John Connally’s right wrist, CE 567 into the windshield where it left a left a lead smear and caused a windshield flare, and finally a final fragment striking a rear-facing chrome strip above the windshield.

Here is a link to Warren Commission Document 80 which details the examination of the Presidential limousine. On page three:

So, Paul Paterni and Dan Boring accompanied Mills and Martinell to the White House garage. One fragment was found in the front seat "in the area between left and right front seats," and another fragment "on the floor in front of the right front seat." These fragments were turned over to the FBI and are known as Exhibits Q2 and Q3.

Here is an analysis of these fragments:

Here is a picture of Q3:

Here is Aguilar, DeSalles, and Simpich's analysis:

Dr. Young said the envelope containing three skull fragments “also contained a brass

slug about half a centimeter in diameter and distorted.” The diameter of CE 569 is, of

course, “about half a centimeter in diameter” at exactly 6.5 millimeters. It is made up of only copper jacket material and therefore might easily appear to be “brass.” One end of it is obviously “distorted,” as in the description Dr. Young provided. Dr. Young used the term the term “slug” to describe it and it is on this term that Robertson builds his case that a “whole bullet” was found in the limousine.

The Columbia Dictionary of the English Language (2nd Edition Unabridged) lists 17

different meanings for “slug” of which two might conceivably apply to CE 569. Meaning #4 defines “slug” as “a piece of lead or other metal for firing from a gun.” Meaning #5 defines “slug” as “any heavy piece of crude metal.” Meaning #4 might conceivably apply to a whole projectile while Meaning #5 would more likely apply to a substantial fragment.

Now with the whole story of what happened in the White House garage fully

described in various reports, whatever Dr. Young thought he was seeing is rendered

irrelevant. We know what happened. It was not just Martinelli and Mills who searched the limousine. They were given permission to search the limousine by Deputy Chief of the Secret Service Paul Paterni who then accompanied them along with Assistant SAIC Floyd Boring. Chief Thomas Mills found Q3 “on the floor in front of the right front seat.” Q3, along with Q2, were sent along to the FBI Laboratory and, as we saw, are mentioned in an FBI Report to Chief of Police Jesse Curry of Dallas on November 23, 1963.

No “non-fragmented bullet with a bent tip” ever existed. Robertson made up its

existence out of an ambiguity in Young’s use of the term “slug.” No “complete bullet” was ever found in the limousine. Dr. Young was referring to Q3, later designated C3, and even later designated CE 569

In addition, Mills and Paterni identified fragments Q2 and Q3 as the fragments found in the limousine:

It's really unclear to me whether Dr. Young really saw the fragment. Did Mills and Martinell actually bring the fragment to Bethesda? Possibly, but here is an excerpt of testimony from Robert Frazier:

I can understand the bone fragments being delivered to Humes and Boswell. But were the two bullet fragments also sent to Bethesda? It's certainly not part of the chain of possession, and I might add that Young is not listed as being in the autopsy room. He certainly might have been at Bethesda, somewhere in the building, but if an envelope was delivered to Humes, it might not have come from Young.

Viewers of JFK: Destiny Betrayed deserve to know the full facts about this supposed bullet.

It is nice to see that one of the experts in JFK: Destiny Betrayed (Dr. Gary Aguilar) has debunked another one of the experts in JFK: Destiny Betrayed (Dr. Randy Robertson). Unfortunately, viewers of the so-called documentary series have no idea that its own experts can't even agree with one another.

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