he fatal head shot that killed President Kennedy is recorded in the Zapruder film in devastatingly gruesome clarity. In frame number 312 the President is seen to be slumped in his seat with his head turned slightly to the left and tilted downward. Then in frame 313 a vaporous halo of blood and tissue abruptly envelops the top and front of the victim's head, these substances seeming to emanate from the right front portion of the cranium (Fig. 6 5). Also prominent in this frame are two whitish streaks, one directed somewhat forward of straight up from the head and the other directed upward and markedly forward. An optical analysis firm, ITEK Corporation, identified these streaks as bony fragments of calvarium being jettisoned at ballistic velocities, on the order of 80 mph, away from the top of the cranium.
The events recorded in the frames immediately preceding and following the impact seen in Z-313 have also been studied in detail by researchers. The HSCA Photographic Evidence Panel explained that the missile which struck the President 's head had come and gone out of the camera's scope by the time of exposure of frame 313 where one sees its effect.3 The actual moment of strike occurred when the camera's shutter occluded the lens between Z-312 and Z-313. When the President 's head became less obscured by the splash of wound effluvia it can be seen that the cranium is distorted in shape with a portion of the top of the head missing. The scalp is reflected back and there is a white spot that is interpreted as sunlight reflecting from the surface of a fragment of cranial bone which is attached to the everted scalp. In one frame, Z-317, there seems to be disruption of the back of the head, or at least, an irregularity or distortion of its normal outline
Author Josiah Thompson (1967) conducted a microstudy of the assassination using slides made from frames of the Zapruder film and reconstructed some of the events that are depicted during the critical moments. The pertinent frames are Z-312 through Z-321. The most striking feature of this sequence of frames is that the victim's head snapped backwards. This fundamental detail in the account of the shooting was unknown to the public until almost two years after the Warren Commission was defunct. The fact of the rearward head snap alone has probably done more to erode confidence in the official version of the assassination than any other single piece of evidence.
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