50 years later, mystery still surrounds JFK assassination

Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.

Dr. William Warrick was a sophomore in college when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. He also lived through the deaths of several other prominent figures in history during the ’60s.


If You Go

The Murder of JFK 50 Years On: A Look At A Comparison of the JFK and RFK Autopsies

Where: Gainesville Downtown Public Library meeting room B, located at 401 E. University Ave.
When: 1 p.m. Sunday and Friday

Warrick, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a family doctor at Southeastern Integrated Medical group in Gainesville, said he became interested in learning more about Kennedy’s assassination in the 1990s after he met Paul K. O’Connor, who assisted in Kennedy’s autopsy in 1963.

O’Connor lived in Gainesville for a number of years before his death in 2006.

On Sunday and Nov. 22, which is the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, Warrick will give a talk at 1 p.m. at the Gainesville Downtown Public Library, located at 401 E. University Ave.

The presentation will take place in meeting room B of the library.

Warrick will discuss an article published by The Gainesville Sun on Feb. 15, 1981, written by Larry Keen in which O’Connor was interviewed.

Victoria Pagán, a professor of classics at the University of Florida, said the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination shows society how conspiracy theories have affected people.

“It gives us a chance to look at the long-term effect of conspiracy theory over 50 years because as soon as the event happened, people were shocked,” she said.

The Sun article mentioned that O’Connor, who was a Navy corpsman at the time, was on duty watch, which meant he had to stay at Washington D.C.’s Bethesda Naval Hospital on a Friday night, the day of Kennedy’s autopsy.

“I knew he was dead by bullet wounds, but I did not know how massive and ghastly the wounds were,” O’Connor said in the 1981 interview. “The hole in his head was big enough for two hands. The right side of his head had been blown off, and there was no brain in the cranium. Nothing — just a big hole.”

According to the article, what most disturbed O’Connor after seeing the former president’s body was an unanswered question.

“If JFK’s remains were intact when they left Dallas’ Parkland Hospital and the brain was gone when the body was wheeled into Bethesda’s mortuary, what happened en route?” wrote Keen.

Pagán said there are still a lot of unanswered questions and pieces of evidence that don’t add up.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re never going to know really what happened,” she said. “We do know that the outcome is that the president was killed, and we know certain facts, but the exact lineup of cause and effect can’t be recovered and when these things happened.”

Warrick said the law states that bodies involved in a murder case must be sent for autopsy with the county’s coroner. However, this was not the case for Kennedy, who died in Dallas.

“The body was stolen,” he said. “It should’ve gone to the Dallas county coroner, and it didn’t; and that’s a break in the chain of evidence,” Warrick said.

Pagán said she doesn’t find the breach of the autopsy location a surprise.

“In a circumstance as absolutely extraordinary as the assassination of the president, it would not surprise me at all that the normal protocol was broken,” she said.

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