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No JFK Shirt Material on Bullets

.c The Associated Press

By KAREN GULLO

WASHINGTON (AP) - Material found on the bullet that killed President Kennedy did not come from the clothing of Kennedy or John B. Connally, according to tests conducted to shed light on whether a second shooter fired at the president.

A scientific panel concluded in a report released today by the National Archives that material on the nose of a bullet retrieved from Kennedy's limousine consisted of paper fibers and nontextile material that could not have come from Kennedy or Connally's shirt.

If it had, that would have supported theories that a second gunman was involved.

The Justice Department asked the FBI to test the fragments to determine whether the materials had any relevance to the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman.

Connally, the Texas governor, was riding in Kennedy's limousine in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, when the president was shot and killed. One of three shots hit Kennedy and then Connally. The Warren Commission, which conducted the official U.S. government investigation of Kennedy's slaying, concluded that Oswald was the sole gunman. Connally died in 1993.

If the material was from Kennedy's shirt, tie or tie liner, there might have been a ``different trajectory than that previously identified'' by the commission, said John Keeney, acting assistant attorney general, in a January 1996 letter to FBI Director Louis Freeh requesting a bureau investigation of the bullet fragments. The letter was released by the Archives along with the bullet report.

The bullet fragments had been stored for years in a metal can lined with cotton, but tests showed that material found on the bullet was not the same as the cotton from the can.

Government scientists also found human skin and tissue on four bullet fragments, ``but it was not possible to establish the precise body areas of origin (e.g. scalp, torso, limb),'' the report said. DNA analysis of the material was inconclusive.

The panel of scientists from the Archives, the FBI Laboratory, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory had considered getting DNA samples from Kennedy and Connally family members for comparison, but ruled that out after DNA analysis proved inconclusive.

The tests were a piece of unfinished business in the investigation of Kennedy's assassination. The firearms-examination panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations had recommended the analysis in 1979, but the recommendation was left out of the committee's final report and the tests were never done.

The tests on the fragments, which are government property, began in September 1998 and were completed last fall.

AP-NY-01-21-00 1120EST

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Lab Test on JFK Evidence U.S. Newswire 19 Feb 1999

National Archives Statement on Status of Lab Test on Kennedy Assassination Evidence To: National Desk Contact: National Archives and Records Administration, Office of Public Affairs, 301-713-6000

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement today by the National Archives and Records Administration on the status of lab test on Kennedy Assassination evidence:

On August 12, 1998, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that it was working with the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board to arrange the analysis in an FBI laboratory of a piece of evidence in NARA's custody from the assassination of the former president.

The current status of the investigation is as follows:

Examination of four small pieces of possibly organic material showed that the material consisted of human tissue in varying states of preservation. Samples were taken from each of the four pieces and were submitted to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for mitochondrial DNA analysis. The initial tests were inconclusive, so additional samples were submitted for analysis. NARA has monitored the testing and awaits the final results of the tests. Results of these tests may be compared to DNA samples from other Warren Commission exhibits.

-0- /U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/ 02/19 18:30

Friday, August 14, 1998

FBI To Test JFK Bullet Fragments

By JOSEPH SCHUMAN Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) The FBI soon should resolve a lingering question about the bullet that killed John F. Kennedy.

An FBI crime lab will try to identify a thread-like material found on a fragment of the bullet in one of the Assassination Review Board's last moves to shed light on the events of Nov. 22, 1963.

Officials from the National Archives, which has custody of all evidence from the assassination and announced the new testing Thursday, said the material's relevance to investigations of the assassination was unknown. The examination is aimed at clearing up a discrepancy left over from a previous inquiry.

The Firearms Examination Panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979 recommended testing the material found on the nose of the bullet in the panel's initial typed report. That recommendation was omitted from the committee's final printed report, and the Review Board says it was unable determine the cause of that omission.

"We're following up on a recommendation made almost 20 years ago," said Review Board spokeswoman Eileen Sullivan. "We would like to see that the record is complete regarding commission exhibit No. 567."

The FBI most likely will test the material next month at its Washington laboratory, Archives official Steven Tilley said.

Gerald Posner, author of a 1993 book, "Case Closed," which investigated Kennedy's death and the inquiries around it, said he doubted the testing would shed new light on the case. But he said the testing could help alleviate a public impression that the government "has dragged its feet" in releasing all information on the assassination.

"Even if it's a big so-what, if it adds some small answer about physical evidence to the record, then great," Posner said.

The Archives itself took more than 18 months to decide to let the bullet undergo examination after the Review Board requested the test. Tilley said preservationists had to determine first whether the tests were worth risking deterioration of what they consider to be a piece of history.

The bullet, which tore through Kennedy's head and caused the fatal injury, was dug out of the president's limousine by the Secret Service shortly after the assassination. To assassination buffs, it is known as the "seat bullet." A second shot, the so-called "magic bullet," hit Kennedy and then Texas Governor John Connally, while a third hit a nearby curb.

The bullet, now in five fragments, is kept in a plastic bag inside an acid-free wooden box at an Archives facility outside Washington.

National Archives preservationists are unwilling to speculate publicly on what exactly the fibrous material is, Tilley said. It is unclear from FBI photos taken at the time of the shooting whether the material adhered to the bullet fragment after it was retrieved, perhaps from the cotton wadding that originally contained it.

Also to be examined are four other fragments, pieces of unidentified organic material that were at one point considered part of the bullet. Archives preservationists believe they could be wax, perhaps the kind used to hold displays for photographers. They know only that the fragments are not metal.

Tilley stressed that like the Review Board, the National Archives' concern is only to make public all information about the assassination.

"We're not in the business of trying to reinvestigate the assassination," he said. "What effect it may have on the interpretation of what happened in Dallas is, I think, up to others."

The Review Board, created by Congress in 1992 to increase public access to the assassination's records, will close Sept. 30, regardless of the new test's results, Sullivan said. She added that it was important the testing take place "before we close."

 

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