What Follows from the Fragments?
A Tremendous Lot; That’s What

Kenneth A. Rahn
31 August 2001

      Now that the remaining doubts about the genuineness of the fragments have been removed (Why The Fragments Weren’t Planted, 30 August 2001), it is time to turn to begin a series of steps that build on this result. In the spirit of exploring the evidence to the fullest, we take the smallest possible step and ask what follows from the genuineness of the fragments. Included in “the fragments” is the evidence from their ballistic analysis and their neutron-activation analysis (NAA). It turns out that these two sets of information go a surprisingly long way toward settling the assassination, so much so that every student of the case should be aware of it.
The NAA and ballistics jointly show that the fragments fell into two tight groups, each representing a bullet that hit. The show that both bullets were fired from Oswald’s rifle in the TSBD. One group of fragments comes from the body shot, the other from the head shot. Together, this evidence deals with the rifle, the big fragments, the little fragments both external and internal for each shot. Not a trace of any such evidence exists for any other presumed shot.
These sets of evidence provide a natural explanation for the wounds to the bodies, the hits to the chrome and the windshield, and the hit to James Tague. By freeing up the shot that is traditionally reserved for Tague, they provide an opportunity for a missed shot, which then explains the third empty shell and the reports of an early miss. Collectively, these results create the most defensible shooting scenario to date—an early miss onto Elm Street, a hit to both bodies (the double-body hit, or DBH), and the killing head shot that also damaged the chrome and the windshield and hit Tague.
These sets of evidence validate the forward snap in the Zapruder film, the general forward spray of tissue and fluids from the head, and the obvious features reported for the wounds, among others. They invalidate claims of tampering or planting by the FBI or anyone else, and claims of alteration of wounds. They make moot the chains of custody for the fragments, the details of entrance and exit wounds in the head, the details of entrance and exit wounds in the bodies, the positions of holes in JFK’s coat and shirt, the Zapruder film, the line of wounds through neck/throat, and the worries about faked X-rays and autopsy photos. They don’t deal directly with the acoustics and the reports of shooters on the knoll, among others, but these are lower levels of evidence because they contain nothing immediately physical—no rifles, shells, fragments, etc.
In short, the fragments show that Oswald’s rifle, and probably Oswald, did everything to the bodies that day for which we have a physical record. They also provide a natural way to damage the front of the car, to hit Tague, and to allow for an early miss. Their genuineness ultimately validates the rest of the physical evidence as well. In a word, the fragments settle the major events of Dealey Plaza.
One thing the fragments do not do, however, is address anything that might have happened outside Dealey Plaza, such as conspiracy. But the powerful simple, direct scenario that they establish predicts that all alternative scenarios be unsupported or disproven, which is exactly what has happened over the past 37 long years.
If the fragments can do all this, what is left for the other physical evidence to do? Is it to be relegated to a secondary, redundant role? It is appearing more and more that this is indeed the case, and that the center of gravity of the evidence has taken a big shift in the direction of the fragments. The prints, the cartons, the fibers on the rifle all tighten the web around Oswald, but they can never prove that he fired the shots. They are not part of the core case. The wounds provide details that corroborate and fill out the story from the fragments, but are definitely subsidiary to them. The Zapruder film confirms the fragments’ information about the head shot, and shows that a single shooter could do all the damage, but it too is secondary. The endlessly controversial photos and X-rays from the autopsy are also secondary, and should probably be downplayed, for the fragments strongly predict that they are materially genuine. The details of when the Zapruder film shows Kennedy and Connally being hit are clearly subservient to the conclusions from the fragments about who hit the men. The question of whether the autopsy was rushed is obviously a peripheral detail that may be interesting, but is certainly not crucial. The exact entrances and exits to Kennedy’s back and head are secondary to the origin of the bullets that hit him. In sum, a surprising amount of traditional evidence appears to no longer be central. Since so much of this evidence remains mired in controversy, we can sidestep it without losing significant explanatory power.
The JFK assassination has been bogged down in unenlightening controversy for much too long. It is time to take a fresh look and reevaluate everything. The way to do this is the time-tested critical way of starting at the core, finding the minimum evidence needed to establish the central points, and refusing to be sidetracked by secondary evidence that doesn’t change anything. This amounts to the scientific procedure of establishing a solid working hypothesis, which in this case is nonconspiracy. This is clearly not the same as proving nonconspiracy, even though it is often viewed that way.
It should be emphasized that all the evidence in the working hypothesis of nonconspiracy is also consistent with conspiracy. Individuals must decide for themselves how much effort they are willing to expend in search of that elusive proof of conspiracy that has managed to keep itself hidden for nearly 38 years now. Researchers who choose to continue searching in this direction must recognize that the odds are stacked heavily against them, for the negative results of 38 years, multiple official investigations, and innumerable private sleuthing must count for a lot. While we all applaud inveterate souls who never give up, it is getting harder and harder to justify that tack in this case.

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