“We don’t have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did.
Nobody’s yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand.”~Jesse Curry
retired police chief of Dallas, Texas, “JFK Assassination File.”
Sherry Fiester on ‘Enemy of the Truth’
From an interview by John Valeri on Examiner.com @:
The author of Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the Kennedy Assassination (JFK Lancer Productions & Publications, Inc., $24.95), Fiester is a retired Certified Senior Crime Scene Investigator and law enforcement instructor who first began to apply her professional expertise to the Kennedy assassination in 1995. She has testified as a court certified expert in crime scene investigation, crime scene reconstruction, and blood spatter analysis, and is recognized as an instructor in her field at state and national levels; she has also written numerous articles for professional publications. Fiester is a recipient of the JFK Lancer-Mary Ferrell 2003 New Frontier Award, given in recognition of research that furthers the investigation of Kennedy’s murder.
Published last November, Enemy of the Truth was received enthusiastically by the author’s contemporaries. Cyril Wecht, MD, JD, praised, “As more information is extracted from official government files and new technology is utilized in analyzing the scientific aspects, Fiester’s fascinating, extensively researched book presents a powerful and cogent basis for repudiation of the official findings. A true literary dissection performed with a sharp analytical scalpel.” Further, Larry Hancock, author of Someone Would Have Talked, noted, “… no experienced law enforcement criminalist has stepped up to the challenge of re-examining the President’s murder with current day knowledge—until now. Anyone with even a passing interest in JFK’s murder needs to examine her [Fiester’s] analysis and conclusions.”
From the publisher:
President John F. Kennedy’s assassination is the most studied murder investigation of the 21st century, yet it remains plagued by questions and a variety of unproven theories. Regardless of how tenacious and believable an enduring claim may be, if lacking historical or scientific sustenance, it is a myth. While these intriguing, but unverifiable suppositions gather attention, they detract from the quality of information essential to explain this mysterious homicide. Myths are superficial, have no investigative depth and ask the reader to take a leap of faith that having supporting scientific evidence does not require. John F. Kennedy said, “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” Filtering long held beliefs in the Kennedy assassination through contemporary, reliable, established scientific facts will help to dispel myths; the very thing Kennedy described as the great enemy of truth. Enemy of the Truth utilizes various forensic disciplines to dispel assassination mythologies, including simultaneous headshots, where the shooter for the fatal head shot was located, if the limousine stopped and more.
Now, Sherry Fiester invites readers to reconcile speculation with science …
1) What inspired you to write ENEMY OF THE TRUTH? Also, please share the meaning behind the title?
For many years I have used a particular email … “I am only one, but I am one. And even one can make a difference. So I will do what I can and hope others do their part; because together, we are more than just one.” It saddens me to know that the assassination of President Kennedy is rife with distorted series. As a result, the historical narrative of our country is incorrect. People have struggled for 50 years to determine what really happened that day in Dallas. Knowing that I have information that would help them answer questions concerning the assassination, and not sharing that information would be wrong. So, in late 2011. I begin to seriously work on the book that would be eventually called Enemy of the Truth. It was published in November 2012.
President Kennedy once said, “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest; but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” I believe the historical narrative of our country concerning the Kennedy assassination is distorted with biased and unverified information that could be characterized as a myth.
Many people still believe in a single shooter, regardless of the scientific facts that prove otherwise. Sadly, the majority of the conclusions and purported facts concerning the death of President Kennedy are anecdotal, unrealistic, and incorrect statements kept alive by those who would prefer fabrications that promote sensationalism as opposed to the quiet reality of fact. I want to fight the unsubstantiated allegations that continue to rear their head, summoning the naive to join forces in a “truth is stranger than fiction” campaign. Although imaginative and sometimes thought provoking, these theories rely upon the suspension of common sense and fly in the face of forensic research. I want to correct those misconceptions.
Polls have consistently shown that the American public’s confidence in their government has steadily declined since the Warren Report was issued in 1964, and now over 80% of the people refuse to believe a lone, deranged gunman killed Kennedy. The American people are convinced they have never been told the truth about the tragedy of November 22, 1963 and many will not stop in their search for the truth concerning his death and the subsequent cover-up. I am one of those people. This book is part of my fight to bring the truth to light and restore accuracy to our history.
2) You examine the case through the use of forensic s. How does this provide a different context to work within – and what advantages does scientific examination hold over anecdotal/circumstantial evidence?
Application of the latest forensic technology and research provides new pieces of the assassination puzzle. For example, identifying the fatal head injury as a shot from the front would prove a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.
You have applied forensic techniques to debunk both pro and anti-conspiracy theories. Can you give a brief example of each (think Grassy Knoll shooter)?
The Kennedy assassination is the most controversial homicide and most studied murder investigation in American History, yet its mysteries remain unresolved and its questions unanswered to the majority of our nation’s citizens. The latest polls indicate the American people believe Oswald did not act alone, and that President John F. Kennedy’s death was the result of a conspiracy. In addition, almost everyone points to the shooter at the Grassy Knoll as proof of that conspiracy.
PRO CONSPIRACY MYTH: For almost 50 years, the death of the President has been attributed to a shooter secreted behind the wooden picket fence at the infamous grassy knoll. Witnesses observed smoke from that location, many heard a shot believed to have originated from behind the fence, and a huge number spontaneously rushed up the slope towards the fenced area. Police officers also believed the shot originated from that area and moved urgently in that direction. One witness saw a flash of light from near the Grassy Knoll and another witness related observing men with a rifle behind the fence. There is even a confession from someone who claimed to have shot the President from behind the picket fence. However, even with such overwhelming evidence, in order to properly identify the location for the sniper, and possibly prove a conspiracy, we must turn to forensic science and contemporary ballistic trajectory reconstruction techniques.
By utilizing the latest information concerning medical wound ballistic research, we can determine if the head shot came from the front, side, or rear of Kennedy. Subsequently, we can locate the shooter within Dealey Plaza. By following the currently recommended steps for reconstructing shooting trajectories, an angle of possible projectile paths for President Kennedy’s fatal head wound can be identified. Utilizing those recommended and recognized trajectory reconstruction standards, the shooter is conclusively proven to be near the south end of the triple overpass or the parking lot adjacent to that portion of the overpass. The unprecedented application of those current forensic crime reconstruction techniques excludes the Grassy Knoll.
ANTI CONSPIRACY MYTH: The remarkable flight of Warren commission Exhibit 399 is cryptic and complex. The Warren Report states the bullet struck President John Kennedy in the back of the neck, passed through the neck without striking bone, and then exited at the front of his throat. The bullet then entered Texas Governor John Connally’s back at the right armpit, damaging four inches of his fifth rib before it exited his chest below the right nipple. Continuing forward, the bullet then struck Connally’s right wrist and shattered the radius bone before exiting at the base of his palm. The still moving bullet then struck Connally’s left thigh just about the knee, penetrating about three inches beneath the surface of the skin. The bullet struck the femur, depositing a small lead fragment before stopping its forward movement.
The bullet was then somehow expelled from the wound in Connally’s thigh, escaped his clothing, and was deposited on a stretcher to be found in a hallway of the Parkland Memorial Hospital. This bullet would eventually become the foundation of the Warren Commission’s theory that a single assassin was responsible for the shooting of the President.
Although, any deviation from this conclusion would suggest a second assassin, the Commission did not declare they had proven the Single Bullet Theory, nor did all members accept the possibility of a single bullet wounding both men. They just declared their inability to prove the validity of the Single Bullet Theory as inconsequential. By its own admission, the Warren Commission did not demonstrate the Single Bullet Theory correct.
“Although it is not necessary to any essential findings of the Commission to determine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive evidence to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President’s throat also caused Governor Connally’s wounds” (WCR:19).
The alignment of the points of entry was only indicative and not conclusive that one bullet hit both men. The exact positions of the men could not be re-created; thus, the angle could only be approximated. (WCR: 107).
Allen Dulles, Warren Commission member, fired by JFK as CIA Director stated during the Commission Executive Session just prior to the report publication, “But nobody reads. Don’t believe people read in this country. There will be a few professors that will read the record…The public will read very little.” Enemy of the Truth proves the Single Bullet Theory is a manufactured resolution of WC problems stemming from a biased investigation that obviously attempted to manipulate the findings supporting a single shooter.
3) Given your research and findings, what specific areas of this case do you believe warrant further investigation? And how has time and technical advancement affected this opinion?
Like many people, I believed that President Kennedy’s fatal head shot came from the grassy Knoll. I had been to Dealey Plaza and stood behind that within wooden fence. For 35 years witnesses and researchers had pointed to the grassy Knoll as the location for that shooter. I like them believe that the fatal shot came from the right front of the president. The problem was. I was confused about where front was located. In 2003, I completed a trajectory analysis to reconstruct the shooting for the fatal headshot. Using the same standard procedures Investigators use today in shooting homicides, I made a surprising discovery. I thought front was the grassy Knoll. But I like so many others was mistaken. President Kennedy is looking approximately 25° beyond profile reference to Zapruder. This means the grassy Knoll was at an approximate 90° angle to him.Front as applied to president Kennedy at the time of the headshot was actually near the South end of the triple overpass, on the opposite side of Dealey Plaza. Utilizing the trajectory analysis techniques, the grassy Knoll is excluded as a possible location for the shooter for the fatal headshot
In the years since President Kennedy’s death, various technical fields have made great strides in understanding ballistics. Developing accurate methods to establish projectile trajectories and establishing a better understanding of wound ballistics continues to be the focus of new research and technical publications. Scientifically establishing directionality of the projectile striking Kennedy in the head is paramount TO EITHER support a single rear shooter, OR establishing a conspiracy. Beveling, fracture sequencing, and projectile fragmentation, target movement, and blood spatter in gunshot wounds to the head are current methods of assessing a projectile’s direction of travel. Application of the latest forensic technology and research provides new pieces of the assassination puzzle. Identifying the head shot as a front or rear injury is significant as it proves a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. Contemporary research indicates of the five methods to determine the direction of travel of the projectile fatally wounding President Kennedy. One is deemed unreliable, and the other four support a shot from the front. Importantly, they do so while meeting the evidentiary standard required to support a criminal conviction in today’s courtroom.
Bullets traveling through bone create marginal conical shaped fractures adjacent to the entry or exit site. The conical beveling characteristically appears as a symmetrical chipping out of bone forming an indentation surrounding the entry or exit point on the opposite side of impact. The small end of the cone touches the interior or exterior bone table from which the bullet entered. Tangential gunshot wounds to the head create elliptically shaped defects containing both internal and external beveling (Levy, 2012).
Some wounds present both internal and external beveling. Researchers attribute this pseudo-beveling in high velocity distance shots to the transference of kinetic energy to the skull as dislodged chips flaking off entry wound edges, producing the effect of beveling. Without careful examination, misinterpretation of an entrance wound as an exit wound is possible in all types of entries (Quatrehomme, 1998, Coe, 1981; Prahlow, 2010; Adams, 2010).
Based upon current forensic research, it appears beveling cannot provide conclusive evidence of projectile direction. Incorrect assessment of direction can occur with tangential entries or exits, mistaken orientation, insufficient beveling, or the failure to recognize external beveling on entry wounds.
When a projectile strikes the skull, radial fractures are created which extend outward from the wound. Internal pressure from temporary cavitation produces concentric fractures create that are perpendicular to the radial fractures. Research addressing the sequencing of radial and concentric of skull fractures in gunshot injuries indicates the radial fractures stem from the point of entry (Viel, 2009; Karger, 2008; Smith, 1987; Leestma, 2009).
The Clark Panel observed extensive fracturing in the autopsy X-rays. The panel report specified there was extensive fragmentation “of the bony structures from the midline of the frontal bone anteriorly to the vicinity of the posterior margin of the parietal bone behind”. The report goes on the state, “throughout this region, many of the bony pieces have been displaced outward; several pieces are missing”. The Clark Panel report indicates the majority of the fracturing and displaced bones fragments are closer to the location they described as the exit wound; this is in direct conflict with scientific research concerning skull fractures resulting from gunshot injuries.
The Kennedy autopsy report stated multiple fracture lines radiated from both the large defect and the smaller defect at the occiput, the longest measuring approximately 19 centimeters. This same fracturing pattern was discussed in the Assassinations Records Review Board deposition of Jerrol Francis Custer, the X-ray technician on call at Bethesda Hospital the night of the Kennedy autopsy. Custer testified the trauma to the head began at the front and moved towards the back of the head (CE 387 16H978; ARRB MD 59:10). Kennedy’s autopsy X-rays have distinct radial fractures propagating from the front of the head, with the preponderance of concentric fractures located at the front of the head. Current research indicates fracturing patterns of this nature correspond with an entry wound located in the front of Kennedy’s head.
When examining the Zapruder film frame by frame, it is readily apparent the President Kennedy’s head moves forward slightly for one frame before his head and shoulders move backward in response to the gunshot wound to the head.
German wound ballistic researcher Bernd Karger, states initial transfer of energy causes the target to move minutely into the force and against the line of fire, prior to target movement with the force of the moving bullet. Karger found greater the transferred energy, the more pronounced the forward movement (Karger, 2008). Wound ballistic researcher Robin Coupland used high-speed photography to confirm and document the forward movement into the line of fire referenced by Karger (Coupland, 2011).
Researchers Karger and Coupland noted the force in a moving bullet is energy of motion, or kinetic energy. Upon impact, the bullet pushes against the head, and initially, as the weight of the head is greater than the weight of the bullet, the head moves against the line of fire. As the projectile slows, more kinetic energy transfers to the target. A overcoming the weight of the head with a sufficient transfer of energy causes the target to move with the continued direction of force of the moving bullet. Application of contemporary wound ballistics research to the movement observed in the Zapruder film indicates a minute forward motion followed by more pronounced rearward movement—consistent with a single shot from the front.
Bullet Fragment Distribution
The distribution of bullet fragment begins near the point of entry and continues in the direction of the bullet trajectory in an ever-widening path as it moves away from the entry wound. A lateral view of the same pattern will reveal a conical shape to the fragment distribution. The apex of the pattern is closest to the entry wound and the wider portion of the fragment cone is closest to the exit wound (Rushing, 2008; Fung, 2008; DiMaio, 1998).
The House Select Committee on Assassinations heard testimony concerning the characteristics of bullet fragment patterns when Larry Sturdivan testified the majority of metallic fragments are typically deposited nearest the entry wound (HSCA 1: 402). Clark Panel Report also stated the majority of fragments were located in the front and top of Kennedy’s head (ARRB MD59:10-11).
Multiple forensic publications indicate X-rays fragment patterns display the majority of fragments near the entry wound. Kennedy’s autopsy X-rays depict the majority of bullet fragments in the front and top of the head, which indicates a frontal shot.
Backspatter is blood ejected from the entry wound and travels against the line of fire, back towards the shooter. Although forward and back spatter pattern display some common features, there are also dissimilarities. Studying forward and back spatter patterns created during a singular incident identifies those differences. By differentiating between forward and back spatter in shooting incidents, the identification of the direction of the origin of force is possible (James, 2005).
Scientific journals, books, and research published since the late 1980s indicate the blood observed in the Zapruder film displays the pattern shape of back spatter. It also extends from the wound area a distance characteristic of back spatter, particularly when correlated to blood documented elsewhere on the scene. The timing for the pattern creation and the dissipation rate identifies it as back spatter. In fact, all available information concerning the blood spatter pattern in the Zapruder film corresponds in every measurable manner with back spatter replicated in forensic laboratories and described in peer-reviewed publications since the late 1980s. Consequently, the only possible conclusion is the back spatter in the Zapruder film is genuine. Identifying the blood in the Zapruder film as back spatter signifies a shot from the front of President Kennedy.
4) To what do you credit the continued fascination with this case?
All homicides have similar questions. How was the victim killed? Who was the perpetrator? How can we prove their responsibility in the victim’s death? Why did they kill the victim? Were other people involved? Normally, we are able to answer those questions. We identify the participants and their motives, and collect enough evidence to prove their guilt in court. However, in the case of President Kennedy’s homicide very few questions have been answered. We cannot identify the shooter’s that injured and killed President Kennedy. We can guess, but we have no real proof. We do not know how many people were involved, not only in Dealey Plaza, but behind the scenes. The evidence has been compromised, and misinterpreted in many cases. The controversy lies in knowing there are two conspiracies. The first was to kill the president, and the second demonstrated by concealing what really happened in Dealey Plaza. What the American people are lacking is closure. Accepting what happened means knowing the truth. However, the truth is still a vague concept for many. Until that basic information is known, there will always be controversy. Although almost 50 years has passed without answers, it does not mean that answers are not available.
With thanks to Sherry P. Fiester for her generosity of time and thought.
The author will be presenting at the 19th annual JFK Lancer Conference to be held November 21-24 at The Adolphus hotel in downtown Dallas. Fine more information at www.jfklancer.com.