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Several Kennedy Autopsy Photographs Were Faked While Many Others Were Hidden.
By Allan Jacobs

New testimony about the autopsy of John F. Kennedy shows that at least one or more additional sets of autopsy pictures were taken of President Kennedy's wounds but no information about the existence of the pictures was ever made public.

The existence of additional photographs which were taken by White House photographer Robert L. Knudsen during the autopsy of the president at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, raises new questions about the honesty and accuracy of the autopsy and how it was controlled by high ranking military officers and politicians. Also in focus is how the autopsy was conducted, which has been a subject of scorn by assassination critics for more than thirty-five years. But the new evidence gives no indication as to the location of any of the additional photographs. They are missing from the National Archives along with the president's brain, skull fragments and pieces and microscope slides of tissues from the margins of the wounds.

"One of the many tragedies of the assassination of President Kennedy has been the incompleteness of the autopsy record and the suspicion caused by the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded the records that do exist," said the Assassination Records Review Board, which released the testimony and the information about the suppressed photographic materials.

The Review Board, which was created by Congress to collect all pertinent records concerning President Kennedy's murder, said the doctors who conducted the autopsy may have had the best of intentions--protecting the privacy of the Kennedy family. But "the legacy of such secrecy ultimately has caused distrust and suspicion," the board said.

"I don't believe that the answer is quite so innocent." declares Kennedy assassination researcher and Warren Commission critic Robert J. Groden, "This whole thing stinks of the same old cover-up we've seen for three and a half decades. Robert Knudsen's photographs were hidden because they proved that the single bullet theory was a lie. The exit wound was in the rear of the head, showing that a fatal bullet struck from the front. Probes photographed in the body showed that the angles were wrong for several of the shots to have come from the Texas School Book Depository building."

One set of autopsy photographs, now at the National Archives, has been known to exist for years, and most of the pictures have been published by Robert Groden, but the new testimony documents the existence of at least one other complete set.

In 1977, Mr. Groden had examined the "known" autopsy photographs in the National Archives while he was Staff Photographic Consultant for the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He noticed that several photographs were missing from the known inventory and he also discovered and reported to the HSCA that about a half dozen others, that were not in the original inventory, were now present in the Archives' collection. In his report to the HSCA, Mr. Groden reported that he had noticed that some of the photographs, notably those showing the rear of the president's head, had been retouched photographically. The insert lines and contrast changes were quite evident.

No other members of the HSCA photo panel were aware of the testimony of the Dallas doctors about the massive exit wound in President Kennedy's head. "They didn't know what to look for." stated Mr. Groden.

In 1997, the review board found and interviewed Saundra K. Spencer, who worked at the Naval Photographic Center in 1963. She was shown the autopsy photographs in the National Archives and found that they were not the photographs that she had processed.

The pictures that she developed and printed had, "no blood or opening cavities." she stated.

The film was brought in by an agent she believed was with the FBI. "When he gave us the material to process, he said that they had been shot at Bethesda and they were autopsy pictures."

She was told, she said: "Process them and try not to observe too much, don't peruse."

Robert Knudsen's widow, Gloria, revealed to the review board that her husband told her that photographing the dead president was "the hardest thing he had ever had to do in his life."

Mr. Knudsen testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which in the late 1970s reopened the official investigation into the killings of both President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mrs. Knudsen said he later told her that four or five of the pictures the committee showed him did not represent what he saw or photographed that night and that at least one of them had been altered.

"His son Bob said that his father told him that 'hair had been drawn in' on the photos to conceal a missing portion of the top-back of President Kennedy's head," according to a review board memo about a meeting with Mr. Knudsen's family.

Mr. Knudsen's observations were identical to those of another autopsy photographer, Floyd Riebe as well as Robert Groden who also reported the alteration of exactly the same photographs, in exactly the same location.

The House Assassinations Committee suppressed both Mr. Knudsen's testimony and Mr. Groden's report of the alteration.

"It is quite important that there were other cameras." said Mr. Groden, "There were four autopsy photographers (and cameras) in all." John Stringer, William Bruce Pitzer, Robert L. Knudsen and Floyd Riebe. Mr. Pitzer was murdered soon after President Kennedy's autopsy to silence him. The existence of the other two or three additional sets of autopsy photographs have been concealed from the public and investigative agencies for thirty-five years.

Additionally, testimony was received by the review board that Mr. Pitzer was, at the time of his death, in possession of a 16 millimeter film of the autopsy which he had taken during the autopsy examination and been working on at the time he was murdered. The film disappeared and has never again surfaced. No one from any of the five governmental investigations has seen any of these other three sets. The only set they've seen contain the doctored photographs which show a photographically rebuilt rear of the head to disguise the large exit wound which was in the back of President Kennedy's head. The proof of at least one more gunman and, of course, a conspiracy."

1999 New Frontier Publications. All rights reserved.