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Proper Assessment of the JFK Assassination Bullet Lead Evidence From Metallurgical and Statistical Perspectives

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 51 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 717-728
Erik Randich Ph.D.; Patrick M. Grant Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2006
12 pages
This paper reports on a re-examination of the bullet evidence from the investigation of the JFK (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) assassination, using metallurgical and statistical analyses.
The authors conclude that standard metallurgical analysis and statistical assessment of the fundamental neutron activation analysis (NAA) of the bullet fragments provide no forensic basis for an unequivocal conclusion that only two bullets were fired in the assassination event. Although collateral information from the overall investigation could narrow the choices for the number of bullets fired, as stand-alone primary evidence, an analysis of the recovered bullet fragments indicate that anywhere between two and five different rounds could have been fired. Moreover, the bullet fragments did not necessarily originate from the suspect rifle, a 6.5-mm Mannlicher-Carcano (MC) bolt-action carbine. The antimony compositions of the evidentiary specimens are consistent with any number of jacketed ammunitions that contain unhardened lead. This paper identifies flaws in the various analyses that have drawn firm conclusions about the number of bullets fired in the assassination event and that they came from the same rifle, i.e., the MC carbine with Oswald's palm print. The conclusions of the current analyses are based on the identification and quantification of the major, minor, and trace elements present in the bullet fragments and interpretation of the data regarding a common origin for the bullet fragments. 1 table, 7 figures, and 36 references