CTKAformerly published Probe Magazine.
Most of the articles on this site first appeared in Probe.
If you would like to submit an article to be considered
for publication on this site, please send mail to us at here.
Jim DiEugenio's Upcoming appearances and radio Interviews:
April 13th, Barnes and Noble, Metro Pointe,
901 B South Coast Drive Ste 150, Costa Mesa,
May 4th, Barnes
and Noble, Orange Town & Country
791 South Main Street Suite 100,
NEW DATE! May 18th, Barnes
and Noble Bookstore in Manhattan Gateway Shopping Center 1800 Rosecrans
Avenue Building B, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310-725-7025, 12-4 PM
October 16-19th Passing the Torch
Conference, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh
November 21-24, November
in Dallas, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
The French Connection, by
Peter Kross Review
by Seamus Coogan
on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012
By Vincent Salandria
1: Review of Peter Janney’s "Mary’s Mosaic"
By Lisa Pease
2: Entering Peter Janney’s World of Fantasy
By James DiEugenio
Awful Grace of God, Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy
and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Martin Hay
KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book With A Few Pages of Trouble
by Vince Palamara
Jim DiEugenio analyzes and summarizes Larry Hancock's
interesting and unique new book Nexus:
The CIA and Political Assassination
Jim DiEugenio reviews the work
of Chris Matthews on the life and death of President Kennedy,
including his latest biography, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive hero".
Reviews of John McAdams' book JFK
Assassination Logic by:
IN DALLAS: LBJ, the Pearl Street Mafia, and the Murder of President
Reviewed by William Davy
a DVD Robert Kennedy documentary produced,
written and directed by Massimo Mazzucco. Reviewed by Jim DiEugenio
Connally Bullet Powerful evidence that Connally was
hit by a bullet from a different assassin, by Robert Harris
those who were in and around Dealey Plaza that
day and those who made a career of the case afterwards.
Joseph Green on the late Manning
Marable's new full scale biography of Malcolm X.
and the Majestic Papers: The History of a Hoax by Seamus
- and -
and the Conspiracy to Kill Kennedy: A Coalescence of InterestsSeamus Coogan
on Joseph Farrell's new book
No Evil: Social Constructivism and the Forensic Evidence in the
by Donald Byron Thomas
Comprehensive Review by David Mantik of
Wikipedia? by JP Mroz and Jim DiEugenio (3 part series)
Sirhan and the RFK Assassination
Part I: The Grand Illusion Part
II: Rubik's Cube by Lisa Pease
is Anton Batey?
CTKA takes a close look at a most curious radio host who is a JFK
denier, Chomskyite, and yet happens to be in league with John McAdams
and David Von Pein. Yep, its all true.
Reviews of Douglas Horne's multi-volume study
of the declassified medical evidence in the JFK case. Reviewed
Jim DiEugenio, David Mantik and Gary Aguilar.
Exclusive excerpts from Mitchell Warriner's long
awaited new book on
the Jim Garrison investigation
Sirhan and the RFK Assassination
Part I: The Grand
From the March-April, 1998 issue (Vol. 5 No. 3)
of Probe Magazine
By Lisa Pease
This is the first of a two-part series dealing with Sirhan Sirhan’s efforts
to win an evidentiary hearing before the California State Supreme Court, and
the evidence upon which that request is based. This part will focus on the
evidence in the case, particularly as it relates to the gun, the bullets, and a
little-known item referred to as Special Exhibit 10. The second part will deal
with the question that must logically follow: If Sirhan didn’t kill Kennedy,
then who did?
"If he isn’t guilty, it’s the sweetest frame in the world."
Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Howard, 1975
The Grand Illusion
Have you ever seen a master magician? Have you found yourself gasping in
amazement asking half-aloud, "How did he do that?" You see a man step
into a box on a hollow platform that’s immediately hoisted into the air. Within
seconds, the man you saw get into a box that still hangs in front of you appears
from behind you in the audience, walking down the aisle. Your eyes have
convinced you this is not possible, because you saw the man get into the
box. Yet there he is, the impossible made real. Such a trick is called a grand
illusion, designed to confuse and deceive. Most enjoy being deceived in this
manner; few want to puzzle the evidence through logically to the only possible
conclusion of how such a trick has to be done. After all, the man cannot both be
in the box and on the ground at the same time!
The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy is also a carefully constructed
illusion, designed to confuse and obfuscate. Imagine what the eyewitnesses in
the crowded pantry saw. Robert Kennedy had obviously been shot, and Sirhan was
firing a weapon. Sirhan must have killed Kennedy. And yet, the
physical evidence does not support this conclusion. Sirhan cannot
have killed Kennedy any more than the magician could be both in the box and in
the audience. It is not physically possible. And just as only another magician
or an extremely perceptive observer can tell you the truth behind the box
illusion, only the conspirators themselves or perceptive observers can throw
light on the events of June 5, 1968.
The quantity of people who have seriously investigated the RFK assassination
is surprisingly small, given the large number of people who have at some point
or another devoted time and energy to learning the facts surrounding the
assassination of Bobby’s older brother John. But what this small, dedicated
group of citizens has uncovered is astonishing. The evidence they have uncovered
deserves to be dealt with honestly in a court of law. In fact, a writ has been
filed on Sirhan’s behalf and is before the California Supreme Court at the time
of this writing. Sirhan’s family and legal representatives are asking the court
to hold an evidentiary hearing, based on newly discovered evidence.
As this article will show, justice in this case has yet to be served. This
author is aware that an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence.
Tireless researchers such as Bill Turner, Jon Christian, Greg Stone, Philip
Melanson, Ted Charach, Rose Lynn Mangan and Sirhan’s own family have discovered
much over the intervening years. Mangan in particular has come up with evidence
that should properly cause any court to doubt the legitimacy of the case against
Sirhan. This article owes much to her guidance through the snaking paths of
contradictory evidence, and her assistance has been both generous and
In the case of Watergate, Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward to "follow the
money." If Deep Throat had anything to say about this case, it would be "follow
the bullets." Nothing is more important in a murder conviction than establishing
that a certain person, by means of a certain gun and certain bullets, caused the
death of another. The chain of evidence is critical in any such case. As will be
shown, the chain of evidence here resembles not a chain at all, but a patchwork
quilt made from squares of dubious origin. Hitler once wrote that the bigger the
lie, the more likely people are to believe it, since few people can imagine
telling so gross a lie. It is perhaps the size and nature of the lies in this
case that have made the fictitious version of the event seem more plausible than
the real one.
There is no quick way to tell the incredible story of this case. It defies
abbreviated summation. Those who wish to learn the truth must first find within
themselves the requisite patience and interest necessary to discover it.
June 5, 1968
Not long after midnight, on the morning of June 5, 1968, Senator Robert F.
Kennedy finished up his victory speech at the historic Ambassador Hotel on
Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. He had just won the California primary in his
effort to secure the Democratic nomination to be that party’s presidential
candidate in November. As Kennedy was about to leave the stage, a fateful event
occurred. LA Rams tackle Roosevelt Grier, who had been working with Kennedy’s
California campaign, would tell the LAPD:
Well, first of all, we were up on the stage, and they said they was going
off to the right of the stage, and at the last minute ... Bill Barry decided
to change and go a different direction because people had found out which way
the senator was going to go, and we had to go downstairs to another ballroom
where people were waiting. This was a press gathering here, and so Bill Barry
and someone else took the senator down and I was lifting Mrs. Kennedy down
from the stairs and we started walking....1
As Kennedy left the podium, he walked down a ramp and entered a pair of
swinging doors, heading east. Between the stage and the press area was the
kitchen pantry, where food for guests at the Ambassador was prepared.
Maitre d' Karl Uecker gripped Kennedy’s right wrist with his left hand. Ace
Guard Service employee Thane Eugene Cesar joined Kennedy as he went through the
double doors into the pantry, touching his right elbow. Bill Barry, an ex-FBI
man who was ostensibly serving as Kennedy’s bodyguard had fallen behind Kennedy
as he entered the pantry.
As they headed east through the room, Kennedy stopped every few feet to shake
the hands of hotel workers. The last hand he shook was that of busboy Juan
Romero. Uecker pulled Kennedy as he moved forward. The tiny kitchen held, by
official count, 77 people (including Sirhan and the shooting victims) who were
possible witnesses to what happened next.
Uecker related that with Kennedy still in hand, he felt someone sliding in
between himself and the steam table about two feet away from where he stood.
Busboy Juan Romero and waiter Martin Patrusky saw Sirhan approach Kennedy, as
did Lisa Urso, a San Diego high school student. Urso saw Sirhan push his way
past her towards the Senator. She thought he was going to shake his hand, then
saw a movement that made her stop in her tracks in frightened anticipation.
Vincent DiPierro, a waiter who had observed Sirhan standing and talking to a
pretty girl in a white, polka dotted dress earlier that night, heard someone
yell "Grab him" a split second before the shots were fired. Somebody reported
Sirhan saying, "Kennedy, you son of a bitch," and then firing at Kennedy with
his hand outstretched.
Uecker felt Kennedy slip from his grasp as he fell to the ground. Screams
were heard as bystanders Paul Schrade, William Weisel, Ira Goldstein, Erwin
Stroll and Elizabeth Evans were hit by flying bullets. Kennedy suffered gunshot
wounds in three different places, with a fourth bullet passing through his coat
without entering the skin.
Uecker immediately grabbed Sirhan’s hand and forced it down onto the steam
table. A swarm of men descended upon Sirhan, surrounding him, holding the gun.
Decathlon champion Rafer Johnson, Grier, George Plimpton and others formed a
barricade around Sirhan, one holding his head, another with a finger in the
trigger to prevent additional shots, another grabbing Sirhan in a crushing bear
Uecker and DiPierro reported initially hearing two shots, followed by a
flurry. DiPierro told the LAPD, "I saw the first two go off. I saw them
actually." Several witnesses reported hearing one or two shots, and then a
pause. Then all hell broke loose. Witnesses not within eyesight of what was
happening thought they were hearing balloons popping or firecrackers. Los
Angeles photographer Boris Yaro, in a phone interview with Robert Morrow,
recounted his memory of the event:
There was either one or two shots fired. O.K. And then, boom, boom, boom,
boom, boom. There was a pregnant pause between those two because my initial
impression was some jackass has set off firecrackers in here; because I got
hit in the face with debris...And then it hit me. Oh, my God, it’s happened
Sirhan was eventually subdued, and taken into police custody.
The police created a unit—originally named "Special Operations Senator," and
renamed a week later "Special Unit Senator"—to investigate the circumstances
surrounding the assassination. The unit put together the evidence that became
the basis of the prosecution’s case against Sirhan.
Sirhan’s defense team stipulated to his guilt. The trial of Sirhan Bishara
Sirhan was a trial solely for the purpose of determining his sentence, not
whether or not he really was guilty of the crime. Sirhan himself, to the belief
not only of his defense team but to the belief of the prosecution as well, truly
could not remember the incidents of that night. His defense only offered that he
had not been in control of his senses at the time of the killing. Not
surprisingly, given such a defense, Sirhan was sentenced to death, a sentence
which was commuted by the abolishment of the death penalty in California. The
illusion was complete. A deranged lone gunman had killed another Kennedy. Most
people, even those fairly knowledgeable about the John Kennedy assassination,
assumed that this time, the truth was self-evident.
It is due to the success of this grand illusion that to date, there has never
been a serious official investigation of the strange facts surrounding this
case. It is the most politically incorrect of all cases. So many people saw
Sirhan firing, and Kennedy fell just a short distance away. How could the truth
be other than what it seemed? Could that many people have misrepresented the
case to us, including Sirhan’s own defense team? Could officials now serving at
the higher levels of our state government have really been accessories after the
fact to a deliberate cover-up?
Ironically, as this article will show, it was the efforts of those who—by any
means necessary—strove most to prove Sirhan guilty, who created the evidence
that may yet serve to set him free.
Police, FBI and press photographers swarmed into the pantry, each recording
in their own way what had transpired that night. The photos told a story that
was opposite what the police and the District Attorney’s office was telling.
There were too many bullets to be accounted for. To limit the record to the
maximum number of bullets Sirhan’s gun could have fired, eight, the official
account of what transpired had to be stretched in some extraordinary—and
The Great Waldo Pepper Bullets
The trajectory study conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department was so
superficial for a case of this enormous magnitude and complexity as to be
embarrassing to the professional reputation of that Department. – Paul
One of the most ridiculed aspects of the John Kennedy assassination is
the preposterous claim that one bullet created seven wounds. In that case, we
are asked to believe that a bullet entered Kennedy’s back at a downward angle,
exited from his neck (at an upward angle), turned around and went back down into
Connally’s back, exited Connally’s chest, entered and exited (and shattered)
Connally’s wrist to land, in near pristine condition, in his thigh, only to work
its way out and to end up, undiscovered until by accident, on a cot in the hall
of the hospital. This bullet, known among researchers by its Warren Commission
exhibit number, CE399, has been called, appropriately, the "magic bullet."
Science had been changed. No longer did bullets fly in straight paths; they
imitated instead the paths of stunt pilot barnstormers such as the Great Waldo
Pepper of movie fame.
The Robert Kennedy assassination requires not just one but several
magic bullets to reduce the bullet count to eight. Without even getting into the
evidence that there were more bullets than Sirhan’s gun could hold, let’s focus
first on the route those eight supposedly took, according to the official LAPD
As you will recall, five people were shot besides Kennedy, one of whom was
shot twice; Kennedy himself was shot four times. Doesn’t that add up to ten
bullets? Not if the LAPD could come up with some magic ones.
The bullet that pierced Kennedy’s coat without entering him took a path of
roughly 80 degrees upwards. The bullet was moving upwards in a back to front
path (as were all of Kennedy’s wound paths). But the LAPD figures this must be
the bullet that hit Paul Schrade. Had Schrade been facing Kennedy, he would
still not be tall enough to receive a bullet near the top of his head from that
angle. But he was not standing in front of Kennedy. He was
behind him by all eyewitness accounts, and as shown by the relative
positions where the two fell after being hit.
For Sirhan alone to have made all the shots, we are asked to believe that one
of the bullets that entered Kennedy’s coat just below the armpit exited up and
out of the coat just below the seam on top of his shoulders, and then pulled a
U-turn in midair to hit Schrade in the head. Schrade has been one of the most
persistent in calling for a new investigation of this case for precisely this
reason. He knows the report is incorrect, and if it’s incorrect, there
had to be at least one more gun firing in the pantry.
Ira Goldstein had been shot twice, although one shot merely entered and
exited his pant leg without entering his body. He was less fortunate on a
separate shot, which entered his left rear buttock. But since there were no
bullets to spare, according to the LAPD’s strict adherence to the eight-bullet
scenario, the pant-leg bullet was made to do double duty. According to the LAPD,
after passing through his pants, the bullet struck the cement floor and
ricocheted up into Erwin Stroll’s left leg. The only bullet that seemed to take
a plausible path was the one that hit Weisel in the left abdomen.
One of the big problems the LAPD had with the crime scene was the number of
bullet holes in the ceiling tiles. Based on witnesses’ recollections, there were
too many holes to account for. There are photos of the LAPD running strings
through bullet holes in the ceiling to establish trajectories. Somehow, these
had to be accounted for.
Elizabeth Evans had bent over to retrieve a shoe she had momentarily lost.
Suddenly she felt something had hit her forehead. Medical reports confirm that
the bullet entered her forehead below the hairline and traveled "upward",
fitting the scenario she remembers. But because the LAPD needed to account for
some of the bullet holes in the ceiling, they decided that a bullet from
Sirhan’s gun had been fired at the ceiling, entered a ceiling tile, bounced off
something beyond the ceiling tile, reentered the room through a different
ceiling tile, and struck Evans in the forehead. This bullet must have pulled
more of a hairpin turn then a U-turn, if the LAPD’s version and the medical
reports are to be merged.
This left still one unaccounted for hole in the ceiling. Or rather, at least
one. We don’t know how many holes there were because the tiles were destroyed.
But the LAPD knew that there were more than two holes in the ceiling. One of the
bullets that entered Kennedy passed straight through on a near vertical path,
parallel to the one that entered the coat, but not the body, of Kennedy (the one
that supposedly terminated its path in Schrade’s head). This bullet supposedly
passed through Kennedy and continued on upwards into the ceiling. Since Kennedy
was facing Sirhan, and the bullet entered back to front, that would aim the
bullet into the ceiling nearly directly above Sirhan’s head, according to
witness placements of Kennedy and Sirhan. And indeed, there was a tile removed
from that very spot. But Sirhan’s arm is not the many feet long it would have
taken to reach around Kennedy to shoot him from behind, while standing several
feet in front of the Senator.
More than Eight Bullets = Two (or More) Guns = Conspiracy
As we have seen, the official police reports strove to present a plausible
scenario for where each bullet went. And even if one accepts the accounts above
as legitimate, despite the important difficulties in those trajectories, the
problem is bigger still. There is a substantial amount of evidence to show that
more than eight bullets had been fired in the pantry that night. And if
there were more than eight bullets, Sirhan was not a deranged, lone gunman, but
somehow part of a conspiracy which has yet to be officially acknowledged.
Evidence of additional bullets surfaced nearly immediately. On June 5, an AP
photo was published showing two police officers pointing at something in the
center frame of the swinging doors that led into the pantry. The caption read,
"Bullet found near Kennedy shooting scene". In 1975, Vincent Bugliosi, who was
then working with Schrade to get the case reopened, tracked down the two police
officers depicted in the photograph. To that time their identity had been
unknown. Bugliosi identified the two officers as Sgt. Charles Wright and Sgt.
Robert Rozzi. Both Wright and Rozzi were sure that what they observed was not
only a bullet hole, but a hole containing a bullet.
If the hole contained a bullet, then it would have been the ninth bullet,
since seven bullets had been recovered from victim wounds and the eighth was to
have disappeared into the ceiling (necessary to account for acknowledged holes
in the ceiling tiles). So any additional bullet presented a serious problem for
those wishing to state there was no conspiracy.
In a declaration filed with the courts, Bugliosi stated:
Sgt. Rozzi had told me and he told me unequivocally that it was a bullet in
the hole and when I told him that Sgt. Rozzi had informed me that he was
pretty sure that the bullet was removed from the hole, Sgt. Wright replied
"There is no pretty sure about it. It definitely was removed from the hole,
but I do not know who did it."
Shortly after the assassination, the LAPD removed the doorjambs and ceiling
panels in the Ambassador Hotel and booked them into evidence. One has to wonder
why someone would tear off a doorframe or book a ceiling panel into evidence if
it contained no evidence of bullets.
Investigative reporter Jonn Christian found a Chicago Tribune article
authored by Robert Weidrich. Weidrich had evidently been in the pantry as the
doorjamb was being removed, for his account contained the following
On a low table lay an 8-foot strip of molding, torn by police from the
center post of the double doors leading from the ballroom. These were the
doors through which Sen. Kennedy had walked....Now the molding bore the scars
of a crime laboratory technician’s probe as it had removed two .22-caliber
bullets that had gone wild.4
Philip Melanson contacted Weidrich in December of 1988. To that point
Weidrich had not been aware of the controversy surrounding the number of bullets
in the pantry. He told Melanson that the police in the room had been "amazingly
cooperative", answering his questions and allowing him access. At that point,
neither the police nor any reporters present could have known how significant
additional bullet holes would be.
Amongst a great deal of additional evidence that will not be discussed here,
perhaps the strongest piece supporting the contentions of Rozzi and Wright came
from the FBI. The FBI had taken their own photos of the pantry after the
assassination. Three photos in particular have been particularly important to
this discussion, photos E-1, E-2, and E-3. The official FBI report of these
photos labels them as follows:
E-1 View taken inside kitchen serving area showing doorway area leading
into kitchen from the stage area. In lower right corner from the photo shows
two bullet holes which are circled. The portion of the panel missing also
reportedly contained a bullet.
E-2 A close up view of the two bullet holes of area described above.
E-3 Close up view of two bullet holes which is located in center door frame
inside kitchen serving area and looking towards direction of back of stage
Bullets do not create bullet holes in wood frames behind victims, exit those
holes in the reverse direction, and then circle around to enter victims from the
front! There is no way to account for these holes using the existing victim
wounds. Two bullet holes in the doorframe would make 10 bullets overall at a
This particular point so worried the County of Los Angeles that in 1977,
Investigator Robert Jackson, writing for Chief Administrative Officer Harry
Hufford, asked the FBI for any clarification they might offer regarding these
photos. The full text of this interesting letter is included here:
In the course of an inquiry by the Los Angeles Count Board of Supervisors
into certain aspects of the physical evidence at the Senator Robert F. Kennedy
assassination, questions have arisen concerning certain FBI photographs. These
photographs, purportedly taken by Special Agent Greiner and numbered E-1, E-2,
E-3 and E-4, are captioned "bullet holes".
If these were, in fact, bullet holes, it could be inferred that more than
one gun was fired in the pantry during the assassination. Mr. Allard
Lowenstein, Ambassador to the United Nations, among others, has maintained
that a possibility exists that another assassin was present. Mr. Lowenstein
and other critics of the official version have referred to the above
photographs as representing the official opinion of the FBI inasmuch as the
captions are unequivocal in stating "bullet holes".
If the captions had said possible, probable, or apparent bullet holes, one
could assume that no precise examination had taken place at the time the
photographs were taken. However, the captions would lead one to believe that a
determination had been made by someone with the requisite knowledge and
The dilemma we are faced with is that the photograph captions are being
used as evidence of the official FBI position in the absence of any other
official stated position.
If more bullets were fired within the pantry than Sirhan Sirhan’s gun was
capable of holding; we should certainly find out who else was firing. If, in
fact, the FBI has no evidence that the questioned holes were bullet holes, we
should know that so that the air may be cleared.
It is therefore requested that the official position of the FBI regarding
these bullet holes be relayed to this office.
Thank you for your cooperation.5
To date, no record of any formal reply to this appears to have surfaced. In
addition, new corroboration for this evidence came in 1975, when Vincent
Bugliosi tracked down Martin Patrusky, a waiter at the Ambassador and an
eyewitness to the shooting. Patrusky gave Bugliosi a signed statement describing
all the events he could recall that related to the assassination and its
aftermath. He recounted being at the hotel when a few days after the
assassination, the LAPD arrived to do a reconstruction of the crime. Patrusky
wrote, "Sometime during the incident, one of the officers pointed to two circled
holes on the center divider of the swinging doors and told us that they had dug
two bullets out of the center divide."6
One final witness whose credibility is hard to shake is FBI agent William
Bailey, who stated in an affidavit that he and several other agents of the FBI
noted at least two small caliber bullet holes in the center divider. He added,
in refutation to the hilarious claim that these holes were made by food carts,
"There was no question in any of our minds as to the fact that they were bullet
holes and were not caused by food carts or other equipment in the preparation
Inexplicably, not only has the LAPD denied that there were additional bullet
holes in the pantry, they destroyed the evidence that could have proven their
claims true! On June 27, 1969, a destruction order was issued for the ceiling
panels and doorjambs which had been removed from the Ambassador and booked into
evidence.7 Given that
the AP photograph was circulated on June 5, 1968, it seems beyond the realm of
plausibility that such an order could have been given in ignorance of the
suspicions that would surely surround the doorjamb and ceiling panel
Ten bullets (and likely more) would indicate that at least two guns were
being fired in the pantry that night, and that a conspiracy had been at work.
But if more guns were firing, why didn’t anyone report this? Or did
Multiple Gun Sightings
Contrary to popular belief, there were witnesses who indicated that more than
one gun had been present in the pantry that night. Consider the following
"It sounded as if there was more than one gun being used at that point." –
Booker Griffin to the LAPD, 7/25/68.
"After the shots, I saw to my left a guard holding a revolver." – Statement
attributed to Richard Lubic in a manuscript analyzed in the LAPD files.
"But the security guard had a gun and I think he went like this [drawing a
gun] or he put it in a holster or something..." – Lisa Urso to Dr. Phil
"I’m pretty doggone sure he [a security guard] fired his gun." –Don
Schulman to the DA’s office in 1971, reiterating his earlier comments to
reporter on 6/5/68.
"TV reports….suspect shot at guard, guard shot suspect in the leg." –
Intelligence Division log entry from 6/5/68, LAPD.
"Two or three seconds after Kennedy entered the kitchen, he heard 8 or 9
shots in quick succession. (He thought there had been two guns.)" – LAPD
interview of Roy Mills, 8/9/68.
"The guy with the gun could have left. No one seemed to pay any attention."
– Darnell Johnson to LAPD, 7/24/68.
"My God, he had a gun and we let him go by." – Joseph Klein, referring
man leaving the pantry in the hurry while Sirhan was being subdued, to
"We had reports from two of the eyewitnesses that there were two assailants
involved." – Larry Scheer, KTLA live broadcast footage from
This is by no means intended to represent a comprehensive list of such
statements, but is included here to show that the LAPD had no reason to assume
from the start that Sirhan was the only person firing in the pantry that
There were Ace Security Guards in the room that night. One of them, Thane
Eugene Cesar, told the LAPD the morning of June 5th that when he saw a gun in an
extended arm, he reached for his own gun. Incredibly, no one from LAPD asked to
see Cesar’s gun, or even inquired as to what kind of gun he had on him! If it
was not standard procedure, then someone should have followed up with
Cesar as to just why he did have a gun that night. If it was standard
procedure for guards to carry guns, then the LAPD should at least have
questioned each of the guards about their guns, and perhaps should have
confiscated and tested them. Cesar once told Ted Charach, "there were three of
us [guards who] had their guns out [when the shooting began.]"8
Those who have wished to refute the evidence of conspiracy in this case just
choose to ignore statements such as those shown here. People were just confused,
or mistaken, and even if Cesar had his gun out, there is no evidence that he
fired. Those people should remember, however, that absence of evidence is not
evidence of absence, and it would have been prudent for the LAPD to thoroughly
investigate these claims if only to refute them. Cesar, for example, claimed to
have a .38 on him. But the police never asked to see the gun, never fired any
test shots, never followed up on the evidence of too many bullets that
necessitated the presence of at least one additional gun.
The perplexing lack of curiosity is amplified by the fact that at least for
the next several days, LAPD officers were far from sure that Sirhan was acting
alone. In fact, even before Sirhan was taken to the Rampart Station, an APB had
been put out on two very different suspects: a man in a gold sweater and a girl
in a polka-dot dress.
Multiple Original Suspects
Immediately after the shooting, 20-year old "Youth for Kennedy" volunteer
Sandy Serrano saw something disturbing, and reported it immediately to both the
press and the police. A recent BBC special included the video of the live
interview of Sandy Serrano from this night. She was very credible, very sure of
what she had heard. She told Sander Vanocur of NBC about a wild encounter she
had just had. At 2:35 a.m. on June 5th, and several additional times that
morning, she repeated this story to the LAPD. Earlier in the night, she had seen
a young woman in a white dress with black or dark blue polka dots walk up the
back stairway of the Ambassador hotel, accompanied by two men—one in a white
shirt and a gold sweater, the other looking dirty and out of place, "boracho,"9 under 5’5", with bushy
dark hair. Shortly after hearing what she assumed were backfires from a car, the
woman and one of the men came back down the stairs, in an excited fashion,
talking loudly. She described the encounter in this way:
She practically stepped on me, and she said, "We’ve shot him. We’ve shot
him." Then I said, "Who did you shoot?" And she said, "We shot Senator
Kennedy." And I says, "Oh, sure." She came running down the stairs, very
and then the boy in the gold sweater came running down after her, and I walked
down the stairs."10
Serrano’s description of the third man in this group, the one who had gone up
but had not come back down, bore a strong resemblance to Sirhan.
An older couple who spoke to the first policeman to arrive at the scene
provided confirmation of Serrano’s story. Sergeant Paul Sharaga had only been a
block away from the hotel when the call came that shots had been fired at the
Ambassador Hotel. Sgt. Sharaga recounted this event to author Dan Moldea as
I arrived at the hotel, and there was mass confusion. I got up on the
parking lot, and there were people running in all directions.
Right away, an older Jewish couple ran up to me, and they were hysterical.
I asked them, "What happened?" The woman said that they were coming out of the
Ambassador Hotel by the Embassy Room, when a young couple in their late teens
or early twenties, well dresssed, came running past them. They were in a state
of glee. They were very happy, shouting, "We shot him! We shot him!" The older
woman asked, "Who did you shoot?" The girl said, "Kennedy, we shot him! We
…This put this old Jewish woman into hysterics. She was still in hysterics
at the time I talked to her. The one thing I learned during my many years in
the police department is that remarks that are made spontaneously are seldom
colored by people’s imagination. These were spontaneous remarks from this
couple. As far as I was concerned, that was the most valid description
Sharaga put out APBs on both the male and female suspects. The female was
described in the APB as follows:
Prior to the shooting, suspect observed with a female cauc., 23/27, 5-6,
wearing a white viole dress, ? inch sleeves, with small black polka dots, dark
shoes, bouffant type hair. This female not identified or in custody.12
An early entry in the LAPD’s log of radio dispatches contains the entry of
the male suspect just before 12:30 a.m.:
description of a suspect in the shooting at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, male
Caucasian, 20 to 22, 6' to 6’2", built thin—blond curly hair, wearing brown
pants and a light brown shirt, direction taken unknown at this
Sirhan was short, dark-haired, and wearing a light blue shirt and blue pants.
The police were already looking for two other suspects besides Sirhan
within minutes of the shooting. A third suspect is referred to in the
following LAPD broadcast log. Note how the talk of multiple suspects becomes a
cause for concern. (The number 0034 refers to the time, 12:34 AM.)
114 to 33, ... Is the suspect in custody or what’s the story?...
He left there approximately five minutes ago. He was taken into plus — in
custody in a police car, and there was another suspect being held within
the building, and I sent Nunley into —
114 to 70 Boy, one suspect in custody. One suspect inside the building. Is
there a supervisor up at the station? ...
2L30, 2L30, come in.
2L30, the description we have is a male Latin, 25-26, 5-5, bush hair, dark
eyes, light build, wearing a blue jacket and blue levis and blue tennis shoes.
Do you have anything to add?
2L30, that’s not the description that I put out.
2L30, the description I put out was a male Caucasian—
—20 to 22, approximately 6' to 6’2, sandy blond curly hair, and wearing
brown pants and a light tan shirt.
Rampart Base Station to Tac 1 units, we now have a base station set up in
the watch commander’s office, Rampart Station. KMA 367.
2L30 Roger. 2L30, would you suggest I contact Rampart Detectives and find
if this suspect is in custody?...
Affirmative 21-1 Attn units in the vicinity of the Ambassador hotel, Sups
descrip is a male, cauc, 20/22, 6' to 6’2 Sandy blond curly hair Brn pants Lt.
tan shirt. end of description
2L30 to control come in
2L30 go ahead
2L30 Code 2 on that Bus
2L30 the 2nd suspect came from a witness who was pushed over by this
suspect. Witness and his wife we have name and address
The Juv officers who were collecting witnesses initially have a sheet of
paper with the name and address and phone number of this witness.
What proximity to the shooting were these people
Staff 9 Staff 9 Come into Control 1
—to 2L30 in what proximity where these 2 witnesses [sic]
2L30 they where adjacent to the room [sic]
2L30 Disregard that Broadcast, we got Rafer Johnson and Jesse Unruh who
were right next to him and they only have one man and don’t want them to
get anything started on a big conspiracy. This could be somebody that was
— getting out of the way so they wouldn’t get shot. But the people that
where [sic] right next to Kennedy say there was just one man....
2L30 to control disregard my broadcast. A description M/C 20-22 6' to 6’2
this is apparently [sic] not a correct description. Disregard and cancel.13 [Emphasis added.]
That others were being considered seriously by the LAPD as suspects in the
original shooting is not surprising. What is surprising is how quickly
they were willing to dismiss these suspects; a curious bias displayed overtly,
on the record, and just over an hour after the shooting. Had this been the first
political assassination of a Presidential figure by the name of Kennedy in this
country, such an attitude, while surprising, may have been normal. But after all
the questions raised in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s
assassination, such a cavalier dismissal of the evidence of additional suspects
becomes more serious. As Los Angeles Chief of Detectives Robert Houghton
reported in his book about the case, it wasn’t as if no one was making the
Inspector [John] Powers had instructed Communications Division at 1:44 a.m.
to cancel its broadcasts of Sharaga’s "second suspect" the male Caucasian with
blond curly hair, after satisfying himself that it was a false lead....
Thoughts of accomplices were much on the minds of both [Captain Hugh] Brown
and Powers. Had the man they were holding really been alone? Could it possibly
be a foreign conspiracy? Could it be the first in a series of assassinations
planned in the midst of national election campaigns in order to paralyze the
entire nation? Or was this perhaps the second? Just two months had gone by
since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered. As yet, there was no suspect
in that killing. Could it possibly be the third? Dallas, Memphis, Los
Houghton fails to explain how Brown was able to "satisfy himself" that the
APB should be cancelled when he harbored such dark thoughts and when an hour
hardly long enough to get to the bottom of a conspiracy. But this would become
the modus operandi of many at Special Unit Senator, the LAPD task force
created to investigate the circumstances of the assassination. While one public
official after another proclaimed that they "didn’t want another Dallas", they
avoided, denied, and as we will see lied and even destroyed evidence, creating
in effect a second "Dallas".
The evidence in the pantry presents many problems. There were too many bullet
holes than could be accounted for by one gun. At least one other gun was present
in the pantry, and possibly more as well. Suspicious characters fled the scene,
one laughing, "We killed him."
In the final analysis, we will find that not one of the bullets recovered
from the pantry victims was ever legitimately matched to Sirhan’s gun. There is
even reason to doubt the gun currently recorded as Sirhan’s gun was the one he
fired that night! And if we follow the evidence, we will reach the point where
we must seriously question the case for Sirhan’s guilt, even if there was
This begins to sound like a rip-off of an X-Files episode. Yet it is
no fiction; it is the bizarre reality presented by the official records of the
The Problem of Distance
One of the most problematic pieces of evidence for the case against Sirhan’s
having fired the shots that killed Kennedy is his distance from Kennedy. Autopsy
evidence showed that all four bullets that entered Kennedy’s body and clothes
were fired at a distance no greater than six inches, and that the fatal
head shot was fired at a distance of no greater than two inches. Yet all
the eyewitness testimony puts Sirhan’s gun muzzle at a range of from one and a
half to three feet from Kennedy. Sirhan would have had to be standing
considerably closer to have been able to position the gun close enough to
Kennedy’s head to have produced the stippling patterns found during the autopsy.
The LAPD had a list of the "five best" witnesses who were in a position to
see both Sirhan and Kennedy. These were (in alphabetical order): Frank Burns,
Martin Patrusky, Jesus Perez, Juan Romero, and Karl Uecker. Others close by
had an opinion on the distance included Richard Aubrey, Vincent DiPierro, Pete
Hamill, Richard Lubic, Edward Minasian, Valerie Schulte, Lisa Urso, and Boris
Phil Melanson questioned Frank Burns about his recollection as to distance
1987. Burns told him that there were "several feet" between Sirhan and Kennedy.
Burns did a mock recreation of the scene in his office, and positioned the
about three to four feet from Kennedy’s head.15 Martin Patrusky, in
the signed statement he gave to Bugliosi, specified the distance between the
muzzle and Kennedy at "approximately 3 feet."16 I have been unable
to find a record of Perez’s opinion on the distance.
Juan Romero reported the gun being "approximately one yard from the senator’s
incidentally, did not identify Sirhan as the gunman at the trial. Asked if
anyone in the courtroom resembled the killer, he said no. Asked specifically
the defendant, pointed out to him, was the assassin, he replied, "No, sir.
don’t believe that’s him."18 Uecker, considered
by the prosecution to be their "star witness", was not asked to speak on the
question of the distance at the trial. Uecker, however, gave a written statement
later to Congressman Allard Lowenstein in 1975. At that point, Lowenstein was
seriously considering calling for a reinvestigation of the case. In his
statement, Uecker said:
[T]here was a distance of at least one and one-half feet between the muzzle
of Sirhan’s gun and Senator Kennedy’s head. The revolver was directly in front
of my nose. After Sirhan’s second shot, I pushed his hand that held the
revolver down, and pushed him onto the steam table. There is no way that the
shots described in the autopsy could have come from Sirhan’s gun. When I told
this to the authorities, they told me that I was wrong. But I repeat now what
I told them then: Sirhan never got close enough for a point-blank shot.19
Richard Aubrey heard the shots and saw a blue flame from the gun. He told the
LAPD that Sirhan was six or seven feet ahead of Senator Kennedy.20 Vincent DiPierro
told the Grand Jury that Sirhan was four to six feet from Kennedy.21 Hamill put the gun
at a distance of at least two feet from Kennedy; Minasian put the gun barrel
about three feet away; Schulte put it six feet away, and Urso said the distance
was "three to six feet".22 Boris Yaro has been
the only witness to put the gun inside of one foot from Kennedy; however, Yaro
was also looking through a camera viewfinder in a foreshortened sightline,
told the FBI that Sirhan and Kennedy were "little more than silhouettes."23
Clearly, Sirhan was just not close enough to have fired the shots described
by the wounds. In addition, even if Sirhan had been close enough, it’s
unlikely he would have been able to position his right hand at Kennedy’s right
ear and behind Kennedy’s back to shoot upwards at angles near 70 degrees
to the vertical, considering that Kennedy’s body, if not his head as well, was
reported to be facing Sirhan.
Solve this one for yourself. Place a friend in front of you and slightly to
your left, as Kennedy was reported to be in relation to Sirhan. Now, with your
right hand, reach around behind your friend’s head with your right hand, as if
you held a gun. Feel the awkward flexion required of your wrist to position
yourself in such a manner. And even if your friend obligingly turns his or her
head, you would still, from your position in front of and slightly to the right
of your friend, need to reach around the right backside of your friend and fire
upwards, and in a back-to-front direction, into the back bottom of your friend’s
Now of course, you could just cheat and turn your friend’s back to you.
Anything is possible if you are willing to alter the evidence in this case.
Evidently, the LAPD felt the same way, for that is exactly what they did.
Regardless of the testimony, they constructed their own scenario of how the
bodies were positioned. Despite the fact that they used actual witnesses and
filmed reenactments that made a farce of their scenario, the LAPD decided that
the only way to prove their case was to make all the witnesses wrong, and their
Los Angeles District Attorney Evelle Younger, in one of the most provably
inaccurate statements ever uttered by a public official about this case,
shrugged off the distance problem with the following:
If somebody says one inch and somebody else says two inches, that’s a
discrepancy. But the jury didn’t think it was significant and neither did I.
Younger’s statement lies on two counts: 1) the "discrepancy" is a distance
a foot and a half or more, not an inch or two, and 2) the jury was
never made aware of the distance problem during Sirhan’s trial. And even
assuming Sirhan’s defense team would have acted honestly with this information
had they taken the time to understand it, they were not given that chance.
The Delayed Autopsy Report
"I’ll never forget reading that autopsy report. By God, the whole cosmos
shook." – Allard Lowenstein (New York Post, 5/19/75)
People who get this far in the case inevitably ask, how could Sirhan’s
defense team not have brought this discrepancy into evidence? According to
Robert Kaiser, a LIFE magazine reporter who was serving as an
investigator for the defense in this case, the official autopsy report was not
made available to the defense until after Sirhan’s trial had commenced on
January 7th, 1969. The first mention of the autopsy report from the defense
appears in a memo dated February 22, 1969 that Kaiser wrote to Sirhan’s lead
attorney, Grant Cooper, indicating that the report showed the gun was fired from
a distance of one to two inches. In a sworn statement that accompanies Sirhan’s
current writ, Kaiser states that he usually reported anything he found within a
day or two of discovery, so it seems unlikely that the defense team had the
report much sooner than a couple of days preceding the date on Kaiser’s memo.
Kennedy had died on June 6, 1968, and the autopsy had been performed immediately
upon his death.24 In
the SUS card index, a card labeled only "Medical" reports: "Coroners protocol –
Final Summary: 10 pages received 11-27-68."
What could possibly have kept the autopsy report from being delivered for
nearly six months? Was it held back to keep the defense from figuring out that
Kennedy was shot at a distance that could not be reconciled with the consistent
reports as to Sirhan’s position relative to Kennedy’s?
The autopsy report discusses the three wounds in Kennedy. The wound numbers
are not meant to correspond to the order of entry of the bullets, which could
not be determined. Wound #1 was to the head, the actual fatal wound. The bullet
that entered fragmented into a couple of large and many tiny pieces. Two wound
tracks were visible in the X-rays. Wounds #2 and #3 were fired from near the
back of Kennedy’s armpit and traveled upward at angles of respectively 59 and
67-70 degrees to the vertical, moving back to front. Wound #2 was described as a
"through and through" wound. Wound #3 was caused by a bullet moving in a nearly
parallel path, but the bullet did not exit the skin, lodging near the 6th
cervical vertebrae, just about where the neck meets the back. All three bullets
traveled back to front, right to left, and upwards. There was a fourth bullet
that passed through the outside of his coat without entering his skin, also
traveling the same path. This, recall, was the bullet that was to have entered
Paul Schrade’s head. The killer would have nearly had to be touching Kennedy
from behind his right side to have fired any of these shots. Powder tests were
conducted by LAPD Criminalist DeWayne Wolfer, and by Coroner Noguchi. Both
concluded that the firing distance, based on comparable patterns produced by
test firings, was approximately one inch.
By now, most people would be convinced that it was not possible for Sirhan to
have been the sole gunman. Dan Moldea, who until recently seemed to be calling
for a new investigation, wrote in his book on the case that he feels Kennedy
must have somehow been in the correct position for Sirhan to have made all the
shots, and that the eyewitnesses all just missed that crucial moment. As bizarre
a deduction as that is, let’s follow that for a moment and see where it takes
us. Were that true, one would expect, at a minimum, to find some evidence that
the neck bullet found in Kennedy from Wound #3, and the bullet fragments from
the fatal bullet in the head, could be matched to Sirhan’s gun. Most people who
have heard passing news about the case over time assume this has been done. Most
people are in for a surprise.
On the Trail of the Evidence
On the morning of the autopsy, June 6, 1968, bullets and bullet fragments
were removed from Kennedy’s body. The neck bullet had not been removed
immediately because it was not life threatening. The surgeons had focused on
removing bullet fragments from the head. The autopsy report states that
fragments were recovered from Kennedy’s head. Wolfer’s log, however,
reports receiving a "bullet" from Kennedy’s head, and even indicates that color
photographs were taken of this "bullet". In the autopsy report, a 6 x 3 x 2
millimeter fragment was found in Kennedy’s head, but no mention is made as to
this fragment’s recovery. Slides are taken, and fragments are in evidence, but
nowhere in the autopsy report does it state who took the fragments or who booked
them into evidence.
In the summary section of the report, under the heading "Bullet Recovery" for
Wound #1, you will find only "see text." But within the text of the section
regarding Wound #1, there is no mention of the recovery of fragments, although
many fragments were seen and described. Fragments were recovered and are
in evidence, but there is no record in the report of whom the fragments were
given to or when. Yet under both the summary and within the text for Wound #3,
there is a specific reference to the bullet found, its removal and the
all-important markings made to preserve the chain of evidence. The following
detailed description for Wound #3 is provided in the report:
A deformed bullet (later identified as .22 caliber) is recovered at the
terminus of the wound path just described at 8:40 A.M., June 6, 1968. There is
a unilateral, transverse deformation, the contour of which is indicated on an
accompanying diagram. The initials, TN, and the numbers 31 are placed on the
base of the bullet for future identification. The usual evidence envelope is
prepared. The bullet, so marked and so enclosed as evidence, is given to
Sergeant W. Jordan, No. 7167, Rampart Detectives, Los Angeles Police
Department, at 8:49 A.M. this date for further studies.
Clearly, the autopsists were being careful, marking the evidence appropriate
and tracking where it went. So why wasn’t this done with the head bullet? This
author has no satisfactory answer for that question.
In the evidence log, there is also something odd about the way the fatal
bullet fragments were booked. On one page (pictured on the opposite page), items
13-27 are listed. But where entry number 24 should be, something odd happens.
The handwriting changes drastically, the numbers 24 and 25 are mysteriously
skipped, and the number of the item booked immediately after item 23 is number
26. It looks like the numbers "26" and "27" have been added over previous
numbers that were partially whited out. The back of the page reports the
Item #26, bullet fragments, were taken from the right mastoid area of
vict’s head, along with numerous bone fragments. These items were removed from
the operating room by Dr. Wertlake, Good Samaritan pathologist, and taken into
custody by Sgt. D. D. Varney 10833, from Dr. Wertlake. The items were taken to
Rampart station and booked as evidence. Photos of the items were taken by Dept
photographer Gaines, prior to removal from the hospital.
Item #27, received from Dr. Wertlake at 7:00 A.M. by Lt. Hogue. Taken to
Rampart station and booked as evidence by Sgt. Varney.
It’s clear that these items were originally recorded as items number 24 and
25. The actual evidence vials and tags still contain this original number
listing, as shown in the photo (at right). Why was it changed? Why were the
photos of "George Clayton" booked into evidence instead as items 24 and 25 (see
page 17)? What was so important about these photos that it necessitated
reordering the evidence log? Or was the purpose to hide the bullet evidence
relating to the only fatal wound in the pantry?
But the story gets curiouser. After entry number 37 in the evidence log, we
find out where the bullet fragments spent the next several nights:
Items 26-34 inclusive were released to F.B.I. Special Agent E. Rhead
Richards Jr. Credential #4560 on 6-5-68 3:00pm by Sgt. W. E. Brandt #
At this point, the bullet fragments labeled items numbers 24 and 25 but
booked as 26 and 27 disappear from official records for a period of eight days.
On June 13th, Wolfer’s log reports the recovery of these fragments as
9:30 a.m. – Received Items #24 and #25, bullets from Kennedy’s head
(Lodola, Patchett and MacArthur).
On the following day, Wolfer’s log reports a startling pair of entries:
8:00 a.m. – Ballistic tests and clean fatal bullets. Ammunition and
1:00 p.m. – Photos taken in color of Kennedy’s head bullet by Watson.
The first entry begs this question: is it usual practice to "clean" evidence
in a murder case? The second entry is interesting as well. Dinko Bozanich, in a
1974 memo to Joseph Busch, both of the DA’s office, wrote:
Wolfer never had any photographic reproductions prepared of the evidence
and test bullets used in his microscopic comparisons during the Sirhan
For whatever reason, the fatal bullet fragments were entered into evidence
under one set of numbers, booked as evidence under new numbers, disappeared with
an FBI agent for over a week, and then returned only to be cleaned and
photographed, while officially no photographs were taken. What is going on here?
And what of the neck bullet? That bullet, marked by Noguchi upon removal, is
at the center of one of the most damning indications of deliberate fraud in this
case. Before that episode can be understood, another event needs to be examined,
one that occurred a year prior to the assassination.
Wolfer and Kirschke
In 1967, former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Jack Kirschke was
charged with the murder of his wife and another man. At that trial, LAPD
Criminalist DeWayne Wolfer showed the jury huge blow-ups of bullet comparisons,
and told the jury that based on his own examination of the evidence, "No other
gun in the world other than Jack Kirschke’s could have killed his wife and her
lover." Kirschke had alibis that put him on the road to Las Vegas at the time of
the murders. Veteran Criminalist William H. Harper of Pasadena was called into
the case by the defense to examine the evidence. The evidence showed that the
bodies had been shot while in bed. But the man’s body was discovered on the
floor. Wolfer tried to say that a post-mortem "settling" of the body fluids had
caused the body to roll off the bed, a notion not supported by any known
scientific phenomena. But on a more serious note, Harper found that the
photographs Wolfer had introduced into evidence compared one land from a
test bullet with two different land impressions 120 degrees apart on the
fatal bullet. In other words, Wolfer had fudged the evidence and presented it to
the jury as fact in order to obtain a conviction in a murder case.
In 1971, when Wolfer was promoted to head of the LAPD Scientific
Investigation Division (SID) Crime Laboratory, Los Angeles attorney Barbara
Warner Blehr submitted a formal request for a hearing on Wolfer’s qualifications
before the Civil Service Commission. Blehr stated six basic precepts of
criminology, and then examined three cases in which Wolfer had violated these
basic precepts. The middle case was the Robert Kennedy assassination. Of the
Kirschke case, Blehr wrote:
His testimony, combined with his very esoteric photographic manipulations
label his work in this instance nothing but perjury.
Her words were uncanny; she could not possibly have known at that point in
time that history was to repeat itself in the case of the Robert Kennedy
assassination. But again, I’m ahead of the story.
If this strange, twisted case has heroes, surely Harper is at the top of the
list. Harper had contact with the Robert Kennedy case almost from the beginning.
After his experience with Wolfer, Harper felt it his duty to inform Sirhan’s
defense lawyer Grant Cooper not to accept Wolfer’s testimony at face value.
Harper even warned the DA, Evelle Younger, to keep an eye on Wolfer’s handling
of the evidence. Younger was eager to build a career, however, upon the
successful prosecution of Sirhan, and Cooper had his own troubles, a topic that
will be dealt with in part two of this article. Cooper stipulated eagerly to
anything that came out of Wolfer’s mouth, regardless of whether or not it was
supported by the evidence. Harper had enough doubts about Wolfer that in 1970,
through Sirhan’s lawyer, he obtained permission to examine the evidence.
Harper read much of the witness testimony, and the autopsy report, and
reached his first conclusion. There had to be at least two firing positions to
account for all the bullets and all the wounds.
Harper took a Balliscan camera to the County Clerk’s office so that he could
photograph the bullets in evidence. He focused attention on the two
least-mutilated bullets, the Kennedy neck bullet and the bullet removed from
William Weisel. What he found stunned himself, and all who heard about his
findings. In the sworn affidavit he executed outlining his findings, Harper
My examinations disclosed no individual characteristics establishing that
Exhibit 47 [the Kennedy neck bullet] and Exhibit 54 [the Weisel bullet] had
been fired by the same gun. In fact, my examinations disclosed that bullet
Exhibit 47 has a rifling angle of approximately 23 minutes (14%) greater than
the rifling angle of bullet Exhibit 54. It is, therefore, my opinion that
bullets 47 and 54 could not have been fired from the same gun.
Harper’s findings sent shockwaves, and may well have provided the impetus to
the elevation of Wolfer to the head of the Crime Lab. Once Wolfer became the
head of the Crime Lab, would not his word seem by the uninformed to carry more
weight? Blehr and Harper failed in their efforts to overturn Wolfer’s
appointment. LAPD Chief Ed Davis hailed Wolfer as "the top expert in the
country." Klaber and Melanson have a whole chapter of their book devoted to
Wolfer, and wrote this about his qualifications:
At the time of the [Sirhan] trial, there was no specific major or grade
point average required for the position of LAPD criminalist, and Wolfer’s
studies at USC seemed to relate tangentially at best to his chosen profession.
As a zoology major he received more C’s than all other grades combined, and he
received five D’s, including one in his major and two in chemistry. He also
had a history of offering inflated credentials to bolster his perceived
expertise, something that would come to haunt him in a few years.25
But the fact that the bullets could not be matched to the gun or to each
other was only a piece of what Harper found. He found another element
when he started looking at the test bullets. They came out of an envelope with
the wrong gun number on it. The Sirhan gun had a serial number of H53725.
The serial number for the gun on the evidence envelope, however, read H18602.
Harper used an analogy to demonstrate the significance of this problem:
"Let us ponder a simple analogy," Harper, 72, said recently. "Let’s say
that one day you become ill and your doctor sends you to a hospital for
biopsy test for cancer. The biospy specimen is numbered H53725. The test
reported negative for cancer, and you go home. Then you get your bill—and
find out you’re paying for a test with a different number, H18602.
"Hell’s fire, you’d want to get tested again, wouldn’t you?"26
The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK,
and Malcolm X
FLASH! This book is now available on KIndle
for the lowest price ever, of $10.99
New Edition, Updated!
Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and
the Garrison Case by James DiEugenio
Order Now! Amazon.com
The entire collection of
Probe magazine on Disk.
Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics
and the Kennedy Assassination
by Sherry G. Fiester
Forensics can be a complicated subject,
yet Fiester provides the reader with easily understood, accurate, information.
Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics and the Kennedy Assassination is so
comprehensive in its approach, this work should be used in the instruction
of all new crime scene investigators nationwide. William