|The Flying Skull Fragment|
DETAIL IN ZAPRUDER FILM UNNOTICED FOR FORTY-THREE YEARS
© 2006-2012 by Frank Caramelli Jr.
Flying Skull Fragment, Clearly Seen; Reflected in Trunk Lid.
Frame 313 of the Zapruder film is undoubtedly the most studied frame of the film. It is probably the most important frame of the film as well, both for what it shows and what it does not. For those not familiar, it is the frame where John F. Kennedy, Thirty-fifth President of the United States, is killed. In that frame, you see his head explode as a bullet shatters his skull. Three seconds later, the man is on the floor of the car, hopelessly beyond resuscitation. In frame 313 we see an horrific splash of blood emanating from the head. Following, we see the President's skull split open, blood, skull fragments, and brain matter splattering around, and flying out of the limousine.
The object is just above the windshield, still blurred, and more of a
square shape in this frame. It is slightly higher than it is in frame
313. It looks like what it has been called for more than four decades;
"...something in the grass...".
|EVERYTHING AND NOTHING|
What is this
significance of this? A piece of JFK 's head flying out the back of the
car. Eyewitnesses have mentioned "debris" flying from the
presidents head; indeed Jackie was probably trying to retrieve a skull
fragment. Ike Altgens told the Warren Commission he saw debris
flying out the "right side of the car". It was noticed; but until
now, not identified in the Zapruder film, and I have only been able to do
so because of the reflection. I would like to reiterate the fact that
something lying in the grass cannot be reflected in the trunk lid.
I do hold out the possibility that other airborne skull fragments could be visible in Zapruder and reflected in the trunk lid. In frame 338 and 339, a small white spot appears above the limousine but the reflection of it is, well, difficult. I am reviewing this and other frames in ongoing research. And I will also continue research into the varied number frames a given object needs to pass through the screen.
Does this change the parameters of information on the assassination? I would like to think so. First off, it is a very good indication of the veracity of the Zapruder film itself. This is probably the most important fact of my finding and something that can be incorporated into works that entail other aspects of the assassination.
Over the years, the Zapruder film has been attacked as falsified in many ways; actually I have my own problems with it. But for these twenty-five very important frames I have analyzed, I offer my expertise as a video technician, photographer, and editor. Those twenty-five frames; the first full second after the fatal head shot; are real. No alteration. No missing frames. No within frame changes; at least not any that pertain to the flight of the skull fragment.
Actually, the flight of the fragment proves there are no frames missing between 313 and 337. The continuity of motion remains perfect if one tracks the flight of the skull fragment. In a sense we are fortunate the fragment is there. In my opinion the Zapruder film is intact and unaltered for this full second, perhaps the most important second; immediately following the fatal head shot.
What has been altered, we now know, were the frames initially published in Life magazine. How altered? The "white spot", the flying skull fragment, was removed from the frames. Maybe the photo editors speculated that it could well be a skull fragment. Very gory; and may have given rise, just days after the assassination, to a more detailed public discussion of the direction of shots. For whatever reasons, the actions of the Life editors gave rise to speculation, and a resulting spread of misinformation.
The fragment itself. It is almost undoubtedly the "Harper Fragment", or a larger piece which contained the Harper Fragment.. In some frames it appears to have the same triangular shape of the Harper Fragment. There is testimony of Dallas Police officers saying they took pieces of skull from the center meridian and threw them in the trash! Many researchers, particularly on the medical/autopsy side of things have tried to "fit" the Harper Fragment into other evidence; and also back onto JFK's head. There remains the possibility that a study of the shape of the fragment in flight could help this branch of research.
Let's address the disappearance of the Harper Fragment. Tracing it's chain of possession trail, it travels from Billy Harper, to his uncle Jack, to a Dallas area physician, and then into the hands of Dr. Burkley, JFK's personal physician. It subsequently vanished.
I would now like to offer my most speculative statement. The fragment was tested. Sooner rather than later, and by the Kennedy family, in secret from the Johnson government. It was possibly shown to contain various metals , indications of different types of ammunition. Perhaps mercury was discovered in the testing; evidence of frangible bullets, and much more sophistication than Oswald acting alone with a broken old rifle. Perhaps something even more sinister; was discovered, like cyanide.
Imagine a conversation, around Christmastime 1963, involving Bobby, Ted, Rose, Jackie, the list could go on. The family, close friends and advisers, and political allies may have known, soon after the deed itself, that a conspiracy was enacted. The mindset among these people would have been one of "...who cares what Johnson comes up with; we know the truth..." The disappearance of the Harper fragment and subsequently the brain matter slides could be connected. There is speculation that the Kennedy family took possession of the brain matter slides. It should be noted that the Harper fragment, and other skull fragments, were not included in the autopsy evidence, and were never entered into evidence by the Warren Commission.
The angle, direction, and origin of the shots. The fragment is blown forward in frame 313. Those in the research community who ascribe to shots from behind will put this forth as proof. I'm not sure it is, I can offer only visual expertise, not gunshot, bullet, trajectory or anatomy expertise. But the fragment doesn't just fly forward; it floats backward. My eye tells me that is because it is spinning. "Helicoptering" as a friend of mine said; above and then to the side of the limousine.
The force of a bullet hitting from behind was not absolute, and did not send the fragment forward, at a distance, into the street. Perhaps a shot from behind was mitigated by another shot. Or the flight of the fragment was caused by the physical reaction of the President. Shots from behind would not necessarily indicate the blasting of skull pieces forward. Those in the research community who endorse the idea of frangible bullets being used may find evidence here. Those who've put forth "jet effect" theories may find evidence here, or a new contradiction of evidence. Multiple shots, hitting simultaneously, an idea put forth in many other works, should also be considered.
The grassy knoll. Certainly the Harper Fragment was found adjacent to the grassy knoll. But the spot where it was actually found is puzzling. It should be noted that the relationship between the grassy knoll area and the spot where the fragment landed is subject to many variables.
The other fragment. In Zapruder frame 313 we see what looks to be a skull fragment travelling upwards at about a one o'clock angle. I would like to point out that this fragment has travelled even farther than the "white spot". In frame 314 that smaller skull fragment looks to be about fifteen feet from the presidents head! Certainly a good indication of how powerful a weapon was used. And a very good example of skull fragments being blown away and visible in Zapruder.
The shot from the storm drain. One of the more, shall we say, offbeat theories of the assassination. But then again look at frame 313. The huge spray of blood emanating upward and forward. The large skull fragment to the front left. The spike of yet another skull fragment travelling upwards at the one o'clock angle. This frame offers as much confusion as it does conclusion in the direction of shots. But we must consider a shot from a very low angle. Like the storm drain. This trajectory offers the idea that the president was hit in the low, right side occipital area. Thus the physical movements upward and to the presidents left. Pay attention to frames 320 - 328 and watch how JFK is jerked downward and to his right a split second after the fatal head shot. A reaction to a low angle shot? It seems at least likely.
I have looked at the position of the storm drain; north side, in front of the curb, just to Zapruder's right; and things don't line up. The limousine is not yet to that storm drain when the President's head explodes. We must bear in mind though that the storm drain is not the only place a low angle shot could have come from. There are many possibilities, not the least of which would be one of the lower floors of the Book Depository, west side. Or somewhere in the north portico area.
Looking at the history of publications and findings about the assassination, it seems there is a trajectory, angle, and location for nearly every work. I am not certain that the spray of blood and brain, the scattering of skull pieces, can lead to new facts for those doing research; but it is possible. It may lead to more speculation than anything. But in light of getting all the facts, as many facts as possible on the assassination, I would like to put forth this one. A piece of the president's skull flies out of the limousine and onto the lawn; recovered later. Visible in the Zapruder film. Proven by it's reflection in the trunk lid.
I would like to note here that the Harper Fragment was expelled at frame 313. It could not have happened at any other point. To pose a question: "Why would it not be visible in Zapruder?"
Previously I mentioned my problems with the Zapruder film and I would like to address them now. Bear in mind these observations are based on visual evidence, and I have not examined the film itself, or attempted any measurements of any kind.
Point one: There is no leader on the film. We won't know exactly when Zapruder started rolling unless the leader can be found and proven to fit with what we now know as frame one. Even if Zapruder started rolling only say, four frames earlier; those frames could be very telling.
Point two: The "splice", at frame 207. It's not a splice at all; it's a tear, and it accounts for at least a frame and a half lost, forever it seems. It points to carelessness in the handling of the film, if not an outright change designed to hide something.
It has been said that the film was "dropped". I don't have a lot of experience with eight millimeter film, but dropping a spool rarely causes a break, especially a clean, horizontal one. In my opinion, this break at frame 207 is deliberate; and meant to hide something. If a bullet hits the freeway sign at that frame, a lone gunman theory is rendered impossible.
Point three: The real frame 313. If frame 313 can be proven to be frame 313, that would be nice. The problem is too much is happening in that one frame. Kennedy has moved slightly forward. The reasons put forth for this are many, and almost always speculative. The spray of blood here is quite large and one cannot altogether rule out alteration and/or a missing frame. Or two frames combined, one laid over the other. This would hide evidence though not disturb the continuity of motion. There is not, however, a problem with the continuity of motion from 313 forward. That leads me to believe a frame before what we know as 313 may have been removed or combined. This does lead to a huge discussion of any alteration occurring. And an issue I will continue to pursue.
The two parameters of this issue are this:
- The film remained, except for a break as a result of being dropped, intact from November 22, 1963 to the present.
- The other side of that coin is the fact that the film was successfully held from public viewing for a good twelve years.
And during that time, the technology certainly existed for a wholesale re-figuring of the film.
I would defer to David Wrone (and his excellent work "The Zapruder Film, Reframing JFK's Assassination") as to the why and why nots of these scenarios, and I agree with his school of thought on the possession and possibility of any changes.
Raising the possibility that changes may have been made to the film is a good thing. We may someday see, through advances in technology, that indeed some changes may have occurred. And should those missing frames (at 207+) ever turn up, we will rely on the latest technology to restore them.
Over the years, there have been those who claim the entire film was "faked". Their findings initially received an audience but upon further research those findings have been mitigated, partly by proofs set forth by others, and certainly due to the outrageousness of the claims.
As an "eyes only" guy I would say this. Some dealing with the Zapruder film seem to know know little about how inaccurate a lower quality film can be. And the Zapruder film is of lower quality. It is what it is; a home movie, and we are very lucky that Zapruder did as good a job with it as he did.
Let me briefly explain why. Just one example would be the exposure he drew. It's very good, if it were not, if the film were just a little under or over exposed, (it's actually, to my eye, slightly overexposed) we would not have the fine document that it is. Zapruder held pretty darn steady throughout the shooting; I think a lot of people may have jerked and bounced the camera enough that the images would have been nearly useless. He could have stopped rolling when he heard gunfire. I would say most untrained photographers would stop rolling in the heat of such a shocking moment. All in all a good job and future generations will benefit from the film, even if some day changes are discovered.
Getting back to those who have said the film was "faked"; and addressing some of the logic applied to the "forgery". The idea that what is a straight line in real life, such as a wall or edge of building, should not appear curved on a lower quality film is a joke. I won't even go into what are essentially basic reasons for this. The idea that blur should be uniform in a given frame is also a joke. I'll give you as example from Zapruder itself. As the limousine rounds Houston moving onto Elm, people are clapping. Some of those people are clapping their hands faster than others. Those hands are more blurred if we examine an individual frame. It is also possible that someone clapping their hands slower could have more blur, not less. This happens with motion pictures. To wrap up the topic of wholesale reconstruction of the film, or a substituted film, again, I am in the Wrone school. His book is an essential starting point in education about the film.
The film is complete and if it has been changed it would be no more than a few frames. Do I straddle the line on this one? Yes. I agree with those who say the film survived largely intact; yet, we cannot ignore the missing frames at 207+. I would hold open the possibility that it has been further altered in some way. It would little change the way the film has been perceived so far.
In my opinion this is what you are seeing: A nearly unsuccessful assassination attempt. The goal of the assassins was not to have the president driving down the street clutching at his throat for five or six seconds. The first shot did not find it's mark. Maybe that is what umbrella man is doing; signaling the back up team, as he realizes the president was not squarely hit.
The most damning thing I see in the film and other photos of the assassination; is the inaction of the Secret Service. Slowly gazing back at the Book Depository. And, notice this in the famed Altgens photograph; the two agents on the running board, looking back at the depository, are not looking up! They are looking straight. Straight at Lee Harvey Oswald! Yes, it is Oswald on the front steps of the Depository. The match is the shirt, another aspect of the assassination covered effectively in Wrone's book.
Summing up. I called this section "Everything and Nothing."
"Everything" because we need all the facts, and it is a fact that a potion of JFK's head was ejected at frame 313 and flew through the air before landing on the lawn. I'll say it once again, something lying on the lawn cannot be reflected in the trunk lid.
"Nothing",... I'm not sure my finding will actually change the way anybody looks at the assassination. I think the "acted alone" school and the "vast conspiracy" people will continue with their set views. But it is imperative that all the facts come out. It is obvious that the more facts the better; for all researchers and all those wanting knowledge of the assassination. I hope I have added to those facts.
"The whole back of his head went flying out the back of the car." Beverly Oliver, eyewitness. Have a look at frames 327 and 328. The back of the President's head. Flying out the back of the car. Reflected in the trunk lid.
|© 2006-2012 by Frank Caramelli Jr.|
|Biography of Frank Caramelli Jr.|
The organizations honoring Frank's work include the Associated Press,
Association of Television Arts and Sciences, RTNDA, New York Festival,
California Bar Association, Los Angeles Press Club and more. In 1996 Frank
partook in a National Emmy award, for the hour long show "Getting
Out Alive" in the Community Service category. He won the Los
Angeles area Emmy Award for Best News Editor in 2001. KCAL was
bought in 2002 by Viacom Corporation and the station was merged with
In 2006 Frank created and produced "The Pulse"; a political
talk show for KCBS.
Until Frank discovered the "truck lid reflection" he had not researched the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He had read most of the major books, and had seen nearly all of the documentaries on the subject. In 2007, he was reviewing a stabilized, enhanced version of the Zapruder film when he noticed the white spot reflected in the top of the car's trunk lid. He carefully studied the frames, consulting with colleagues in the television industry, before contacting Marcel Dehaeseleer with his findings. Frank is the father of a twelve year old girl, whose soccer team placed third in the 2006 California State AYSO Championships. As hobbies, Frank enjoys surfing and guitar playing. He will continue to research the Zapruder film, and other photographic and film issues pertaining to the assassination