In their first public interview, two pathologists who performed the autopsy of John F. Kennedy say the president was struck by only two bullets fired from above and behind.
The pathologists' findings support the Warren Commission's conclusion that Kennedy was killed by a lone assassin in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
"In 1963, we proved at the autopsy table that President Kennedy was struck from above and behind by the fatal shot," Dr. James Joseph Humes, a former U.S. Navy pathologist, told the Journal of the American Medical Association. "The pattern of the entrance and exit wounds in the skull proves it, and if we stayed here until hell freezes over, nothing will change this proof."
In an article accompanying the interview with the pathologists, four doctors who treated the president at Parkland Memorial Hospital's emergency room reiterated their belief that one gunman shot Kennedy.
The doctors dismissed contentions by Fort Worth surgeon Charles Crenshaw that a second gunman shot Kennedy from the front. Mr. Crenshaw, a Parkland resident when Kennedy was shot, describes his theory in "JFK: Conspiracy of Silence," which has been on the New York Times best-seller list for five weeks.
Both assassination articles will be published next week in the AMA journal but were released yesterday. Journal editor Dr. George Lundberg, a former military pathologist who has known Dr. Humes since 1957, said he had tried to interview the pathologists for seven years.
"They resisted strongly," Dr. Lundberg said. "The two doctors were very sensitive because they'd been criticized a lot by many people over the years. They felt they'd already made their report in the Warren Commission report, and they were leery of working with news media of any kind."
The pathologists' anger and frustration over conspiracy theories finally spurred them to talk about the autopsy, Dr. Lundberg said. He met with Dr. Humes and Dr. J. Thornton Boswell for two days in February.
Drs. Humes and Boswell performed the four-hour autopsy at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., during the late night and early morning of Nov. 22-23, 1963. They were assisted by Army pathologist Lt. Col. Pierre Finck, who now lives in Switzerland.
Dr. M.T. "Pepper" Jenkins, longtime chief of anesthesiology at Parkland who helped treat Kennedy, said yesterday that he was "prejudiced to believe" the AMA report. "I know Jim Humes," Dr. Jenkins said. "I know he's an outstanding, upright, conscientious and absolutely superbly trained pathologist."
Humes disparaged the recent spate of conspiracy theories.
"I think this kind of general idiocy is a tragedy -- it almost defies belief -- but I guess it is the price we pay for living in a free country," he told the AMA journal. "I can only question the motives of those who propound these ridiculous theories for a price and who have turned the president's death into a profit-making industry."