The Connally Wrist Fragment


Dr. Charles Gregory removed one bullet fragment from the wrist of Gov. Connally, as documented in SA Doyle Williams' FBI report dated 11/30/63:

Doctor Charles Francis Gregory, Parkland Hospital, stated he and Doctor Tom Shires and other staff physicians performed surgery on Governor Jim Connally on November 22, 1963. He states surgery performed by him was done on the Governor's right arm, and that he removed from the arm a small fragment of metal. He stated the metal fragment was placed into a transparent container for preservation, and that during the operation, he recalled no other pieces or bits of metal being removed from the Governor's body.
Doctor Gregory was asked whether or not he removed or saw another doctor remove a small fragment of metal from the left thigh of Governor Connally, and he states that although X-rays indicated the possibility of a small fragment of metal embedded in the left thigh that no surgery was performed to remove same.
Doctor Gregory stated Surgery Supervisor Audrey Bell took custody of the fragment of metal removed from the Governor's arm, and that the ultimate disposition of the metal which was considered to be of possible evidentiary value, could best be explained by Miss Bell. He stated he did not on his own knowledge know, however, but he had been advised [that] Miss Bell obtained a receipt from State Trooper Bob Nolan [a State of Texas highway patrol officer] and transferred the metal fragment to him in accordance with instructions from the Governor's office at Parkland Hospital.

State Trooper Nolan "...turned the bullet fragment over to Captain Will Fritz [Dallas Police Department.] at approximately 7:50 p.m. He stated he had no further information concerning the matter and that his only participation in this series of events was the acceptance of the fragment and delivery of same to Captain Fritz." (FBI report 11/23/63)

This fragment was sent to the FBI Lab in Washington along with other evidence on the evening of the assassination. The fragment was designated Q9 by the Lab.

The evidence was returned to DPD on Sunday morning. After Oswald was shot, all the DPD evidence, including the Connally wrist fragment, was turned over to the FBI on 11/26/63.

SA Frazier, who examined the fragment on the day after the assassination, testified before the Warren Commission:

Mr. SPECTER. Was a fragment of metal brought to you which was identified as coming from the wrist of Governor Connally?
Mr. FRAZIER. It was identified to me as having come from the arm of Governor Connally.
Mr. SPECTER. Will you produce that fragment at this time, please?
Mr. FRAZIER. This one does not have a Commission number as yet.
Mr. SPECTER. May it please the Commission, I would like to have this fragment marked as Commission Exhibit 842. (Commission Exhibit No. 842 was marked for identification and received in evidence.)
Mr. SPECTER. Now, referring to a fragment heretofore marked as Q9 for FBI record purposes, and now marked as Commission Exhibit No. 842, will you describe that fragment for us, please?
Mr. FRAZIER. Yes, sir; this is a small fragment of metal which weighed one-half a grain when I first examined it in the laboratory. It is a piece of lead, and could have been a part of a bullet or a core of a bullet. However, it lacks any physical characteristics which would permit stating whether or not it actually originated from a bullet.

Here is a portion of his notes dealing with the Connally fragment Q9:

What's obvious from all the evidence is that CE-842 consisted of ONE fragment taken from the Governor's arm.


Dr. Guinn, the HSCA, & NAA

The FBI had secretly conducted Neutron Activation Analysis on the various bullet fragments in 1964, but their results were inconclusive. NAA was a relatively new process in 1964, and hoping that improvements in the technology might yield better results than the FBI tests in 1964, the HSCA engaged as a consultant Dr. Vincent P. Guinn, professor of chemistry at the University of California at Irvine.

Of extreme importance to the HSCA was determining whether CE-399 was in fact the bullet that cause all the non-fatal wounds in both President Kennedy and Governor Connally. There were no fragments from Kennedy's neck/back wounds, but proving that the fragment recovered from Connally's wrist came from CE-399 would be a giant step in confirming the Single Bullet Theory.

Guinn subjected CE-842 to NAA, and concluded, "Using the CE numbers, the 399 specimen, which is the so-called stretcher or pristine bullet--it has various names--agrees in composition both in its antimony and its silver with CE-842, which are the fragments reportedly recovered from Governor Connally's wrist."

At first glance, that seems to settle the issue. But notice that Guinn describes CE-842 as "...fragments reportedly recovered from Governor Connally's wrist." The evidence shows that CE-842 was just ONE fragment, not fragments plural. Was this just a transcription error, or had more fragments mysteriously appeared out of thin air???

The first thing to be noted is that Guinn told the HSCA that the lead fragments he was given "...did not include any of the specific little pieces that the FBI had analyzed." Furthermore, Guinn describes the contents of CE-842:

"The fourth one was CE-842, one larger fragment and two smaller ones reportedly recovered from Governor Connally's wrist during surgery."

We know that Dr. Gregory removed one fragment from Connally's wrist. We know that Frazier examined one fragment. We know that the samples given to Guinn did not match the FBI samples. We know Guinn found three fragments REPORTEDLY recovered from Connally's wrist.

With so much at stake, the only way to assure that Guinn got the desired result would be to replace the real CE-842 fragment with samples taken from CE-399. That would guarantee a match.


Jerry McLeer
August 29, 2000