Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy

There is no other murder in history that has produced as much speculation as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Forty years after Kennedy was fatally shot on Nov. 22, 1963, more than 70 percent of Americans still believe there was a conspiracy to kill him and that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, did not act alone, according to a recent ABCNEWS poll. Even though the government concluded Oswald was the sole gunman, theories still flourish.

See the poll results.

"How could possibly someone as inconsequential as Oswald have killed someone as consequential as Kennedy? [There's] something out of whack about it," said Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy.

At a time of tragedy in the country, conspiracy theories offer "purpose and meaning that make tragedy more than a simple twist of fate in the hands of, in this case, a lone gunman," said Robert Goldberg, author of a book about the Kennedy assassination, Enemies Within.

Using his 8-millimeter movie camera, Abraham Zapruder recorded the moments when President Kennedy was murdered. The Zapruder film is the only film that recorded the shooting from start to finish. The film itself has been cited as evidence of a conspiracy, and some have claimed it shows that Oswald was not the only gunman.

To advance the analysis of the crime Dale Myers, a computer animator who has been studying the assassination for more than 25 years, generated an exact computer simulation of the Zapruder film.

Myers created a three-dimensional computer model of the plaza, reconstructed exactly the way it was on Nov. 22, 1963, then matched the model with the Zapruder film. The result allowed him to piece together various animated viewpoints of the shooting.

Once he had a three-dimensional match, he was able to create any point of view. Not only was he able to re-create Zapruder's point of view, he could re-create the viewpoint of any eyewitness: on the sniper's nest with the gunman, or on the grassy knoll, or along the motorcade route.

"In addition to that, the accuracy of the computer model would be such that you could then plot trajectories, you could take the wounds, the positions of the figures, you could see where the firing sources were from, or not from," Myers told ABCNEWS.

Single Bullet Theory

Myers' animation has introduced a new way of investigating the Kennedy assassination — and debunking the conspiracy theories which have flourished over the last 40 years.

Many Americans believe Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally were hit by different bullets from separate guns, suggesting a conspiracy of more than one gunman. Myers' simulation, however, proves they were hit from behind by the same bullet.

The animation shows, from the positions of the two men in the car, that any bullet that struck the president in the upper right back and emerged out of his throat, would have continued forward and hit Connally in the back near his right armpit — exactly where the governor was in fact hit. In addition, the fact that both men reacted at the same time clinches it, said Myers.

"So it's not a magic bullet at all," said Myers. "It's not even a single bullet theory, in my opinion. It's a single bullet fact."

If the two men were hit from behind by the same bullet, where did it come from? Using the men's body positions and the locations of their wounds, Myers isolated the source of the shot.

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