A CONVERSATION WITH RONALD C. JONES, M.D.
KENNEDY ASSASSINATION CHRONICLES
VOL. 1, ISSUE 1, 1995
By Brad Parker
from his book "First On The Scene, Conversations With Parkland Hospital Doctors"
With the publication of JFK Death Part II Dallas MDs Recall Their Memories in the May 27, 1992 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, it appeared as though the Parkland trauma team had finally embraced the official autopsy report. However, subsequent interviews with several physicians who treated the President in Dallas indicate that this opinion is by no means unanimous. One of the most compelling accounts comes from Ronald C. Jones, M.D., who rarely makes detailed statements on the wounds he observed.
On June 19, 1992, Dr. Jones, now Chief of Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, described the Presidents throat wound as being compatible with an entrance wound. In his handwritten report of November 22, 1963, the injury was noted as a small hole in [the] anterior midline of [the] neck thought to be a bullet entrance wound (WCH 20, page 333). Twenty-nine years later, he stated that I would stand by my original impression. Calling upon the Warren Commissions ballistics studies, as well as over thirty years of experience in treating gunshot wounds, he said the throat wound could have been an exit wound only if [the missile]...it didnt strike bone, didnt tumble, and didnt fragment. Now, we dont know that.
In testifying before the Warren Commission, Dr. Jones described a large wound to the posterior portion of the skull (WCH 6, page 56). In 1992 phone call with this author, he continued his assertion that the wound was behind the right ear and, on external examination, did not appear to involve the temporal-parietal region of the head. Dr. Jones interrupted my incomplete question. I asked, You saw the large wound in the back of the head and ... Jones interrupted to say, Yeah. I didnt think that there was any wound I didnt appreciate any wound, anyway, in the right temporal area, you know, over the in front of the ear say, or anything like that. However, he cautioned that there could have been a lot of skull destruction beneath the skin that you would not have seen externally. The visible wound was partially hidden as a lot of that injury was on the down side with him flat on the table.
In reviewing a 1966 drawing by Robert N. McClelland, M.D., which depicts a large wound to the posterior skull (see drawing above.), Dr. Jones wrote on March 4, 1994 that the drawing only indicates the skull involvement but not the true destruction of the skull and brain. Nevertheless, he admitted that the drawing indicates the general location of the wound, but certainly not with as defined edges as shown in this depiction. Dr. Jones 1964 testimony describes what appeared to be an exit wound in the posterior portion of the skull (WCH 6, page 56). In 1983, he reportedly told author David Lifton, [i]f they brought him in here today, Id still say he was shot from the front (Best Evidence, page 705). On August 10, 1992, Dr. Jones was asked to comment on the accuracy of the quote, and stated only that it may have been taken a bit out of context. He added that given the set of circumstances as we saw that day, if they brought him in today, I would tend seeing what I saw, I would say that he was shot from the front. He qualified this statement by cautioning, youve got to reconsider what you would say based on whats been found out since. But circumstances as they were when you first saw him that day ... my assumption would be the same.
Unlike many of his colleagues of Trauma room one, Dr. Jones recollections of the Presidents wounds have not significantly changed with the passage of time. His recent descriptions of the wounds are remarkable consistent with his statements in 1964. However, he is understandably careful in his wording, using such words as compatible and general. He is also quick to point out that information subsequently uncovered should be considered. When one considers his descriptions and comments on the possible origin of missiles which inflicted these wounds, it becomes apparent that he does not agree with the statement of James Carrico, M.D., that [n]othing we observed contradicts the autopsy finding that the bullets were fired from above and behind by a high velocity rifle (JAMA 5/27/92, page 2805). For even I accept that the wounds Dr. Jones observed could have been inflicted from above and behind the President, his descriptions of the wounds significantly contradict those detailed in the autopsy report.
Breo, Dennis L., JFKs Death Part II Dallas MDs Recall Their Memories, The Journal of the American Medical Association, May 27, 1992, Vol. 267, No. 20.
Jones, Ronald C., M.D., Authors telephone interview, June 19, 1992.
Jones, Ronald C., M.D., Authors telephone interview, August 10, 1992.
Jones, Ronald C., M.D., Letter to the author, March 4, 1994.
Lifton, David S., Best Evidence, New York, Carroll and Graf Publishers, Inc. 1988.
ATTACHMENT 2: REFERENCES TO AN OCCIPITAL HEAD WOUND OF EXIT IN WARREN REPORT (HSCA
VOL 6, PART OF CE 392, APPENDIX VIII, PP. 516--530)
- Dr. Kemp Clark, Two external
wounds, one in the lower third of the anterior
neck, the other in the occipital
region of the skull, were noted. (p. 517) There was a large wound in the right occipitoparietal region * * *
both cerebral and cerebellar tissue were extruding from the wound (p. 518). Kemp Clark (handwritten at
4:15 p.m.) There was a large wound beginning in the right occipital extending into the parietal region (p.
- Dr. Charles Carrico, Dr. Jenkins
attempted to control slow oozing from cerebral
and cerebellar tissue via pads
instituted (p. 520).
- Dr. Malcolm Perry, A large wound
of the right posterior cranium was noted ... (p. 521).
- Charles Baxter, ... the right temporal and occipital bones were missing and the brain was lying on the
table ... (p. 523).
- Dr. M.T. Jenkins, There was
a great laceration on the right side of the head
(temporal and occipital ) causing a
great defect in the skill plate ... even to the extent that the cerebellum had protruded from the wound (p.
- Dr. John Ebersole, (taped interview with Gil Delaney, Lancaster Intelligence-Journal) + (a.),March 8, 1978--
knew shot came from the back or side because the back of his head was blown off. (Ebersole now says he
was misquoted. ) In an interview with Art Smith, Chester, Pa., Ebersole said the back of the skull was intact
except for maybe three small fragments.
- Dr. Ronald Jones, What appeared to be an exit wound in the posterior portion of skull (6H56).
- Dr. Perry, A large avulsive injury of the right occipital area (6H11).
- Dr. Charles Baxter, A large gaping wound in the back of the skull ... literally the right side of his head
was blown off (6H 40-41).
- Dr. McClelland, As I took the position at the head of the table ...I was in such a position that I could very
closely examine the head wound, and I noted that the right posterior portion of the skull had been blasted. It
had been shattered apparently by the force of the shot so that the parietal bone was protruded up through the
scalp and seemed to be fractured almost along its posterior half as well as some of the occipital bone being
fractured in its lateral half, and this sprung open the bones that I mentioned in such a way that you could
actually look down into the skull cavity itself and see that probably a third or so, at least, of the brain tissue,
posterior cerebral tissue and some of the cerebellar tissue had been blasted out (6H33).
- Nurse Pat Hutton Pressure bandage was no use ...because of the massive opening on the back of the head.
- Dr. Gene Akin, Back of the right occipital parietal portion of his head was shattered, with brain substance
- Dr. Clark, ... examined the wound in the back of the President's head. This was a large, gaping wound. in the
right posterior part, with cerebral and cerebellar tissue being damaged and exposed (6H20).
- Dr. Peters, We saw the wound of entry in the throat and noted the large occipital wound (6H71).
- Diana Bowron, Parkland Hospital
was a gaping wound in the back of his head.
It was gone.
Gone. There was nothing there. Just a big gaping hole. There might have been little clumps of scalp, but most
of the bone over the hole, there was no bone there. There was no damage to the front of his face, only wound
in the back of his head and the entry wound in his throat. The wound was so large I could almost put my whole
fist into it."
An exercise by researcher Barb Junkkarinen at NID 1999 where she had an actual hospital gurney, a male volunteer, and a facimilie head wound, participants could clearly see the wound on the volunteer's head.
Additional Head wound statements:
SSA Clint Hill: The right rear portion of his head was missing. It was lying in the rear seat of the car. His brain was exposed. There was blood and bits of brain all over the entire rear portion of the car. Mrs. Kennedy was completely covered with blood. There was so much blood you could not tell if there had been any other wound or not, except for the one large gaping wound in the right rear portion of the head.
DP witness Phil Willis: It took the back of his head off
DP witness Marilyn Willis: Matter was coming out the back of his head
Aubrey Rike (Oneal Funeral Home, Dallas): You could feel the sharp edges of the bone at the edge of the hole in the back of the head
Bethesda photographer Floyd Riebe: a big gaping hole in the back of the head
FBI SA Frank ONeill: a massive wound in the right rear
Petty Officer Saundra Spencer: They had one(autopsy photo) showing the back of the head with the wound at the back of the head. It was just a ragged hole.
Mortician Thomas Robinson: about the size of a small orange
directly behind the back of his head
they brought a piece of heavy duty rubber, again to fill this area in the back of the head
it had to be all dried out, packed, and the rubber placed in the hair and the skin pulled back over
and stitched into that piece of rubber.
FBI SA James Sibert: it was a good size, in the back part of the head there. Well, I think about 3 1/2 inches one way then quite a bit the other...they showed the pictures at that deposition that were neat in appearance, and boy, I don't remember anything like that...but my recollection of the way the head looked is nothing that would appear as this photograph(see photo below) shows. This photograph is too neat. Right back here is where you would have had that massive wound, right in here, and you see that's neat. My thought was that that was probably taken after reconstruction was done... there was a big cavity there. I mean that you could look in to. The skull wasnt intact, the bones werent in place
there definitely was a large cavity. It was just that apparent that there was so much skull missing.(from Richard J. Smith)
on the Scene: Interviews With Parkland Doctors
by Brad Parker
series of interviews and essays with the Dallas Parkland Hospital
doctors. Also testimony and interviews by the Warren Commission,
House Select Commitee On Assassinations, and the Assassination
Records Review Board. SC, 218 pages.
NID00-10 Dr. Ronald C. Jones Dallas Conference Presentation DVD $10.00