The Annals of Applied Statistics

Chemical and forensic analysis of JFK assassination bullet lots: Is a second shooter possible?

Cliff Spiegelman, William A. Tobin, William D. James, Simon J. Sheather, Stuart Wexler, and D. Max Roundhill

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The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) traumatized the nation. In this paper we show that evidence used to rule out a second assassin is fundamentally flawed. This paper discusses new compositional analyses of bullets reportedly to have been derived from the same batch as those used in the assassination. The new analyses show that the bullet fragments involved in the assassination are not nearly as rare as previously reported. In particular, the new test results are compared to key bullet composition testimony presented before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Matches of bullets within the same box of bullets are shown to be much more likely than indicated in the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ testimony. Additionally, we show that one of the ten test bullets is considered a match to one or more assassination fragments. This finding means that the bullet fragments from the assassination that match could have come from three or more separate bullets. Finally, this paper presents a case for reanalyzing the assassination bullet fragments and conducting the necessary supporting scientific studies. These analyses will shed light on whether the five bullet fragments constitute three or more separate bullets. If the assassination fragments are derived from three or more separate bullets, then a second assassin is likely, as the additional bullet would not easily be attributable to the main suspect, Mr. Oswald, under widely accepted shooting scenarios [see Posner (1993), Case Closed, Bantam, New York].

Article information

Ann. Appl. Stat. Volume 1, Number 2 (2007), 287-301.

First available in Project Euclid: 30 November 2007

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Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Forensic CABL heterogeneity bullet


Spiegelman, Cliff; Tobin, William A.; James, William D.; Sheather, Simon J.; Wexler, Stuart; Roundhill, D. Max. Chemical and forensic analysis of JFK assassination bullet lots: Is a second shooter possible?. Ann. Appl. Stat. 1 (2007), no. 2, 287--301. doi:10.1214/07-AOAS119.

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Supplemental materials

  • Supplementary material: AOAS119 supplementary files.