Tuesday, 22 October 2013

President John F Kennedy's brain was kept for forensics...this went missing

The Kings Cross Sting was investigating the shooting of the President John F. Kennedy


The following is from Volume VII of the HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON
ASSASSINATIONS.

---------------------------------------------------------------


PART III. SUBSEQUENT HISTORY OF MATERIALS

      (114)  On April 22, 1965, then Senator Robert F. Kennedy
sent a letter to Dr. Burkley directing him to transfer in person
the autopsy material being kept at the White House to Mrs. Evelyn
Lincoln, the personal secretary of President Kennedy, for
safekeeping at the National Archives.  The letter also said that
Mrs. Lincoln was being instructed that the material was not to be
released to anyone without Robert Kennedy's written permission and
approval.  This demonstrates Robert Kennedy's firm control over
the disposition of the materials.

      (115)  In response to this directive, Dr. Burkley notified
the Protective Research Division of Senator Kennedy's request.
Before transferring the material, Bouck, Burkley and other Secret
Service personnel carefully inventoried all the items present. 
This was the first official inventory of these materials.

      (116)  On April 26, 1965, Burkley and Bouck transferred the
materials to Evelyn Lincoln.  A letter from Burkley to Lincoln
documenting the exchange included the inventory, which documented
that a stainless steel container 7 by 8 inches in diameter,
containing gross material was transferred.  On the last page of
the inventory, Lincoln wrote: "Received, April 26, 1965, in room
409, National Archives, Washington, D.C., from Dr. Burkley and
Robert Bouck."  At the time of the transfer, the items now
missing, which are those enumerated under item No. 9 of the
inventory, were allegedly present. 

      (117)  In his testimony before the committee, Bouck stated
that he is quite positive all the autopsy-related material that
came into his possession was given to Mrs. Lincoln at the time of
the 1965 transfer. He also stated that he was uncertain whether
Dr. Burkley had custody of the brain, but that if the brain was
part of the autopsy materials in the custody of the Secret
Service, it was transported to the National Archives. 

      (118)  Dr. Burkley clarified this issue, saying that the
stainless steel container mentioned in the inventory held the
brain and that he saw the bucket in April 1965, when he and Bouck
transferred the autopsy materials to Lincoln. Since this transfer,
Dr. Burkley maintains that he has had no further knowledge of or
association with these materials. 

      (119)  Mrs. Lincoln was not an employee of the National
Archives during this period; she was only assisting in the
transfer of the official papers and items of President Kennedy and
in this capacity occupied an office in the National Archives. 
Consequently, although the autopsy materials were in the confines
of the building the National Archives did not have authority or
responsibility for them. 

      (120)  The next documented transaction involving the
materials transferred to Mrs. Lincoln occurred on October 29,
1966, when Mr. Burke Marshall, on behalf of the executors of the
John F. Kennedy estate, sent a letter to Lawson B. Knott, the
Administrator of the General Services Administration, outlining
an agreement for formal transfer of materials related to the
autopsy to the U.S. Government. 

      (121)  Pursuant to this agreement, which constituted a deed
of gift, Burke Marshall met with various representatives of the
Government on October 31, 1966, in room 6-W-3 of the National
Archives to transfer formally the materials related to the
autopsy.  These materials were contained in a locked footlocker
for which Ms. Angela Novello, the personal secretary to Robert F.
Kennedy, produced a key. Others in attendance for the transfer
were William H. Brewster, special assistant to the general counsel
GSA, who unlocked and opened the footlocker; Harold F. Reis,
executive assistant to the Attorney General Robert H. Bahruer
Archivist of the United States; Herman Kahn, Assistant Archivist
for Presidential libraries and James Rhoads, the Deputy Archivist
of the United States.  After Brewster opened the footlocker,
Marshall and Novello departed. 

      (122) Bahmer, Reis, Rhoads, Kahn, and Brewster then removed
all the material from the footlocker and inspected it.  The
footlocker contained a carbon copy of the letter from Robert F.
Kennedy to Burkley on April 22, 1965, and the original letter from
Burkley to Lincoln on April 26, 1965, which also listed on the
itemized inventory list the materials present at that transfer. 

      (123)  Upon inspection, the officials realized that the
footlocker did not contain any of the material listed under item
No. 9 of the inventory.  This material included:

      1 plastic box, 9 by 6 1/2 by 1 inches, paraffin blocks of
            tissue sections.
      1 plastic box containing paraffin blocks of tissue sections
            plus 35 slides.
      A third box containing 84 slides.
      1 stainless steel container, 7 by 8 inches in diameter,
            containing gross material.
      3 wooden boxes, each 7 by 3 1/2 by 1 1/4 inches, containing
            58 slides of blood smears taken at various times
            during President Kennedy's lifetime. 
      
      (124) The last date these items were accounted for was the
April 26, 1965 transfer of the autopsy materials to Lincoln.

      (125) The committee contacted Lincoln to determine what
happened to the materials in item No. 9, the missing materials,
following their documented transfer to her in April 1965. She
informed the committee of an interview and subsequent affidavit
that Burkley and Bouck brought her some materials in the spring
of 1965 that Dr. Burkley identified as being related to the
autopsy of the President.  She recalled that these materials
arrived in a box or boxes, and that within 1 day she obtained a
flat trunk or footlocker from the Archives personnel to which she
transferred the materials.  She added that these materials were
kept in a security room in her office in the National Archives. 

      (126)  Mrs. Lincoln stated that within approximately 1
month, Robert F. Kennedy telephoned her and informed her that he
was sending Angela Novello, his personal secretary, to move the
footlocker that Dr. Burkley had transferred.  She believed they
wanted the materials moved to another part of the Archives,
presumably where Robert F. Kennedy was storing other materials. 
Angela Novello soon came to her office with Herman Kahn, Assistant
Archivist for Presidential Libraries, and one or more of his
deputies, to take the trunk. Lincoln believes she had Novello sign
a receipt for the materials, which was Lincoln's routine practice,
but she is uncertain where it would be today. Lincoln also said
that she gave Novello both keys to the trunk.  She added that the
trunk was never opened while it was in her office. 

      (127) Lincoln had no further direct contact with the
material, but did state that after the assassination of Robert
Kennedy, she began to wonder what happened to it.  Consequently,
she contacted Kenneth O'Donnell, former aide to President Kennedy,
to make sure the family was aware of its existence. Mrs. Lincoln
said it was her understanding that Mr. O'Donnell then called
Senator Edward Kennedy, subsequently calling her back to tell her
everything was under control. 

      (128)  Because of Lincoln's statement and other reports that
Novello produced the key to the footlocker in December 1966, the
committee interviewed Novello and also obtained an affidavit.  She
informed the committee that she had no recollection of handling
a footlocker, of possessing a key or keys to such a footlocker,
or of handling any of the autopsy materials. 

      (129)  The committee also contacted Burke Marshall and
Senator Edward Kennedy to determine their knowledge of the missing
materials. Senator Kennedy indicated that he did not know what
happened to the materials, or who last had custody of them. 

      (130)  While Burke Marshall also maintained that he had no
actual knowledge of the disposition of the materials, he said it
was his speculative opinion that Robert Kennedy obtained and
disposed of these materials himself, without informing anyone
else. Marshall said Robert Kennedy was concerned that these
materials would be placed on public display in future years in an
institution such as the Smithsonian and wished to dispose of them
to eliminate such a possibility. Marshall emphasized that he does
not believe anyone other than Robert Kennedy would have known what
happened to the materials and is certain that obtaining or
locating these materials is no longer possible. 

      (131)  Since Marshall offered the opinion without any
verification, the committee continued to search for the missing
materials and to examine any issue related to the autopsy
materials in general. The committee interviewed Harold F. Reis,
Executive Assistant to the Attorney General who attended the 1966
transfer of the autopsy materials to the National Archives, as
well as Ramsey Clark, the Attorney General in 1966, to determine
their knowledge of the missing materials. Clark stated that he
initiated the action to acquire the materials transferred in the
October 1966 deed of gift pursuant to Public Law 89-318, enacted
on November 2, 1965.  This law provided that the acquisition by
the United States of certain items of evidence pertaining to the
assassination of President Kennedy had to be completed within the
year.  When Clark learned the time limit for obtaining the
evidence was approaching, he contacted Robert Kennedy, who was not
sympathetic to the Government's need to acquire the autopsy
material. Rather heated negotiations ensued between Clark and
Burke Marshall, the Kennedy family representative, which resulted
in the October 29, 1966 agreement constituting the deed of gift.
Clark stated that he had only requested transfer of the autopsy
photographs and X-rays and did not recall any discussions with
Robert Kennedy about any other autopsy materials. Consequently,
the brain and the tissue segments were not an issue in the
procedures and negotiations during the October 1966 transfer. The
committee could not ascertain if the physical specimens were ever
discussed in the negotiations, what type of approval Robert
Kennedy gave for transforming the materials, or what procedure was
employed to separate the photographs and X-rays from the material
now missing.

      (132)  The next reference to the missing materials and the
other autopsy materials in the custody of the National Archives
occurred in 1968. Ramsey Clark, the Attorney. General, arranged
for an independent review of the autopsy evidence by a group of
pathologists-commonly referred to as the Clark panel--as a result
of growing skepticism concerning the assassination and Warren
Commission investigation.  In a memorandum to the files on
February 13,1969, Thomas J. Kelley, the Assistant Director of the
Secret Service, reflected on the report of the Clark panel, in
which the physicians had commented that the materials they
reviewed were included on the inventory list that accompanied the
letter from Burkley to Lincoln on April 26, 1965.  Kelley asserted
that this reference to the autopsy materials by the Clark panel
physicians was phrased in this manner because the doctors did not
have access to the materials listed as comprising item No. 9 on
the inventory list.  The memorandum also noted that after
discovering in October 1966 that these items were missing,
Archives personnel conducted a careful search but could not
determine their location. 

      (133)  After discussing the "missing" materials with Harry
R. Van Cleve, Jr., General Counsel to the General Services
Administration, and agreeing that they should attempt to ascertain
their disposition, Kelley said he would contact Dr. Burkley. 
Kelley's memorandum related the following:

            [T]hat after turning all of this material over
      to Mrs. Lincoln [on April 26] [Burkley] never saw nor
      heard anything about its disposition, and that he was
      surprised to hear that it was not with the remainder
      of the material he turned over to Mrs. Lincoln. After
      discussing the problem, Dr. Burkley offered to call
      Mrs. Lincoln. He did this in my presence and Mrs.
      Lincoln told him that all of the material he turned
      over to her was placed in a trunk or footlocker; that
      it was locked, and that to her knowledge it was never
      opened nor the contents disturbed by her. She said,
      however, that sometime after its receipt all of the
      material concerning the assassination, with which she
      was working, was turned over to Angie Novello, Robert
      Kennedy's secretary. 
      
      (134)  The memorandum further related that Dr. Burkley told
Kelley that Henry Giordano, a former White House driver, was
working with Lincoln at the time of the transfer and was then
employed in Senator Kennedy's office.                           
    
      (135)  After contacting Van Cleve again and advising him of
the contact with Burkley, Kelley related the following:

      I * * * further advised him that, in my opinion, we
      should not contact Giordano. He agreed with this and
      stated he felt that the inquiry would have to remain
      as it now stands; that perhaps we were borrowing
      trouble in exploring it any further, and assured me
      that the Archivist had made a thorough search of all
      of the material on hand to make sure that the
      material in question had not been received by the
      Archivist at another time or under other
      circumstances.

      (136)  Thus, the General Services Administration, which
oversees the National Archives, decided not to pursue the search
for the missing materials any further. The officials involved were
apparently satisfied with knowing that the National Archives did
not have any responsibility in their disappearance and did not
wish to instigate trouble by pursuing any investigation.

      (137)  In 1971, a controversy, not directly involving the
missing materials, arose over the chain of custody of the autopsy
materials being stored in the National Archives and who should
have access to them.  John Nichols, a pathologist, began court
proceedings in the Federal courts, challenging the agreement of
October 29, 1966, which contains several restrictions limiting
public access to the autopsy materials.  An issue raised by the
suit was whether the Kennedy family ever had any legal right to
control the autopsy materials at any time and, consequently,
whether any deed of gift from the family which contained
restrictions limiting public access could be valid.

      (138)  Both the Federal District Court and the Tenth Circuit
Court of Appeals upheld the agreement.  The Court of appeals
stated that the "letter of agreement of October 29, 1966 is a
valid, binding agreement and that the restrictions imposed thereby
are reasonable." 

      (139)  The legal department of the Congressional Research
Service analyzed the Nichols case for the committee. The CRS noted
that while the "Nichols decision represents only the determination
of one circuit until the question is addressed elsewhere it would
seem to represent 'the state of the law?'"  The CRS stated that
until the April 1965 transfer, the autopsy materials were "in
Government hands with no intervening transfer of like having
occurred." It then observed:

            At this point, however, as suggested in the
      November 4, 1966, Treasury Department memorandum * *
      * the transfer to the Kennedy family may have been
      interpreted by some as indication of U.S. recognition
      of Kennedy family rights in the items so transferred.
      At some point thereafter, either upon delivery to the
      Archives in 1965 or upon acceptance of the letter of
      gift of October 1966, the materials may be regarded
      as having been either (1) returned to their rightful
      owner, the United States Government, or (2) donated
      by properly executed deed of gift to the United
      States, thereby resulting in relinquishment of
      Kennedy family rights in them. 

      (140)  The CRS ended by saying that two conclusions are
irrefutable. First, the autopsy photographs and X-rays are now the
property of the United States; and second, the letter of agreement
between the Government and the Kennedy family remains enforceable. 
  
      (141)  The committee also interviewed Archives personnel to
ascertain their present position regarding the missing materials.
In response to committee requests, Trudy H. Peterson, Assistant
to the Deputy Archivist of the United States, prepared a written
statement.  In this document, Peterson noted that just prior to
the October 1966 transfer of the materials to the Archives, the
locked footlocker was brought to the National Archives building,
although she does not specify from where.  This suggests that
after Novello allegedly took the material from the office of Mrs.
Lincoln, it may have been moved from the Archives building as
opposed to only being moved to another part of the building as
Mrs. Lincoln speculated.) Peterson also says that Robert Bahmer,
the Archivist of the United States in 1966, believed that sometime
before the transfer of the materials as a gift, Herman Kahn, the
Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries supervised the
acceptance of the footlocker, along with several other boxes of
Robert Kennedy's materials, for courtesy storage in vault 6-W-3.
Peterson further stated that Herman Kahn, now dead, may have been
the only Archives employee present for the transfer and that no
record of delivery is available. 

      (142)  In response to a subsequent committee inquiry
concerning Herman Kahn, Peterson stated that Kahn dealt with
members and representatives of the Kennedy family during 1964-68
on numerous issues, including the courtesy storage of Robert
Kennedy materials.  He was present for the October 1966 transfer
and, according to Marion Johnson of the National Archives, was one
of the original holders of the combination to the safe cabinet in
which the autopsy material was stored.  Kahn also allegedly
accompanied Novello when Novello apparently removed the autopsy
materials from the office of Lincoln. 

      (143)  In response to another committee request, the Office
of Presidential Libraries conducted a thorough but unsuccessful
search of the office files for 1965-66 for documentation regarding
the transfer of the autopsy materials to the physical custody of
the Archives.  Additionally, two members of the Presidential
Libraries staff who worked under Herman Kahn at that time stated
in interviews and affidavits that they could not recall any
pertinent details concerning the autopsy materials. The staff of
the John F. Kennedy Library also reviewed their files, with
negative results.  Further, one Archives employee, Marion Johnson,
Archivist, Office of the National Archives, National Archives and
Records Service, remembered that he became aware of the footlocker
containing the autopsy materials shortly before the October 31,
1966 transfer, but was not aware of its contents until after the
transfer.  Additionally, at the request of the committee, on July
18, 1978, Clarence Lyons and Trudy Peterson conducted a thorough
but unsuccessful search of the security storage vault for the
tissue sections and the container of gross material. 

      (144)  Given these efforts and findings, it appears that
Kahn and Novello removed the autopsy material from the office of
Mrs. Lincoln shortly after April 1965. The material was then
either kept in another part of the Archives, probably a Robert
Kennedy courtesy storage area, or removed from the building to a
location designated by Robert Kennedy. The circumstantial evidence
would seem to indicate that Robert Kennedy then decided to retain
possession of all physical specimen evidence and transferred only
the autopsy photographs and X-rays to the Government. The
committee has not been able to verify how or when the item No. 9
materials were removed from the other autopsy materials or what
subsequently happened to them.
      
PART IV. ADDITIONAL EFFORTS TO ACQUIRE THE MISSING MATERIALS
      
      (145)  After failing to determine the fate of the missing
materials by tracing that chain of custody, the committee
investigated the possibility that someone had placed the missing
autopsy items all of which were physical specimens taken from the
body of President Kennedy, in the final grave on reinterment, on
March 14, 1967.  The persons contacted who were present for the
ceremony could not recall any additional package or material being
placed in the grave. The Superintendent of Arlington National
Cemetery from 1951 to 1972 John Metzler, informed the committee
that he attended the burial of the President and the reinterment. 
At the time of burial, the coffin was placed in a "Wilbur" vault,
which has a lid and vault that operate on a tongue and groove
system. Tar is placed on the points of contact of the grooves to
insure a tight fit and permanent seal. Metzler witnessed the
lowering of the lid and the sealing of the vault, and believed
that the only method to open the vault subsequently would be to
break the lid on the main portion of the vault. 

      (146)  Metzler supervised the reinterment in 1967 and was
present at all phases of the transfer: from the opening of the old
site through the transfer by crane of the vault to the closing of
the new site Metzler said there was no way anyone could have
placed anything in the coffin or vault during the transfer without
his seeing it.  Metzler also said that nothing could have been
placed in the vault since 1963 because there was no indication of
damage to the vault indicating any disturbance.  Metzler stated
further that no one placed anything in the new or old gravesite
besides the vault.  

      (147)  In the course of its investigation the committee
contacted numerous other people in an unsuccessful attempt to
locate the missing materials. They included:

      1. Dr. James J. Humes, autopsy pathologist;
      2. George Dalton, former White House aide and assistant to
            Mrs. Lincoln at the National Archives;
      3. Edith Duncan, administrative assistant to Robert Bouck,
            Protective Research Section, Secret Service;
      4. Joseph D. Giordano, former White House aide and
            assistant to Mrs. Lincoln at the National Archives;
      5. Frank Mankiewicz, former assistant to Robert F. Kennedy;
      6. Harry Van Cleve, former General Counsel of the General
            Services Administration;
      7. Lawrence O'Brien, former aide to President Kennedy;
      8. David Powers, former aide to President Kennedy;
      9. Ken Fienberg, aide to Senator Edward Kennedy;
      10. P.J. Costanzo, Superintendent of Arlington National
            Cemetery;
      11. Dr. James Boswell, autopsy pathologist;
      12. Dr. Pierre Finck, autopsy pathologist;
      13. Adm. George Galloway, commanding officer of the
            National Naval Medical Center in 1963;
      14. Capt. John H. Stover, commanding officer of the U.S.
            Naval  Medical School in 1963;
      15. Bruce Bromley, former Justice Department attorney who
            was called briefly from private practice to serve as
            counsel to the Clark panel;
      16. Carl Eardley, former Justice Department official;
      17. Harold Reis, former Justice Department official;
      18. Sol Lindenbaum, former Justice Department official;
      19. National Archives personnel; and
      20. Thomas J. Kelley, Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret
            Service.

PART V. CONCLUSIONS
 
      (148)  Despite these efforts, the committee was not able to
determine precisely what happened to the missing materials. The
evidence indicates that the materials were not buried with the
body at reinterment. It seems apparent that Angela Novello did
remove the footlocker containing to the materials from the office
of Mrs. Lincoln at the direction of Robert Kennedy, and that
Herman Kahn had knowledge of this transaction.  After the removal
from Lincoln's office, Robert Kennedy most likely acquired
possession of or at least personal control over these materials. 
Burke Marshall's opinion that Robert Kennedy obtained and disposed
of these items himself to prevent any future public display
supports this theory.

      (149)   There are least two possible reasons why Robert
Kennedy would not have retained the autopsy photographs and
X-rays.  First, the only materials retained were physical
specimens from the  body of his brother: Tissue sections, blood
smear slides, and the container of gross material.  He may have
understandably felt more strongly about preventing the misuse of
these physical materials than the photographs and X-rays.  Second,
the Justice Department under Ramsey Clark pushed hard to acquire
the photographs and X-rays but did not request the physical
materials. Even if Robert Kennedy had wished to prevent the
release of all the autopsy materials, he was not in a position to
do so when confronted with Justice Department demands.

      (150)   Consequently, although the committee has not been
able to uncover any direct evidence of the fate of the missing
materials, circumstantial evidence tends to show that Robert
Kennedy either destroyed these materials or otherwise rendered
them inaccessible.
 

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