Probability Analysis and Database of JFK Assassination Witness Deaths

08 Apr

Probability Analysis and Database of JFK Assassination Witness Deaths

Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll)
Updated: Oct.2, 2014

Click Reclaiming Science:The JFK Conspiracy to look inside the book.

JFK Blog Posts
JFK Calc Spreadsheet Database
Tables and Graphs

There has been much discussion and controversy regarding the number of unnatural JFK-related witness deaths that occurred following the assassination. The deaths were a combination of homicides, suicides, accidents and undetermined origin. This analysis of the probabilities of the deaths occurring over 1-15 year time intervals has been updated in Executive Action: JFK Witness Deaths and the London Times Actuary.

There were at least 18 unnatural deaths of JFK-related witnesses within one year of the assassination. In a given year, one unnatural death would be expected in a random group of 1400. The probability that at least 18 would die unnaturally in one year is 1 in 1000 trillion (see the mathematical proof below).

JFK Calc is a spreadsheet database of 126 JFK-related witnesses, of which 122 occurred from 1964-78. The spreadsheet contains the date of death, witness category and connection to the case as well as detailed probability calculations. Of the 126 witnesses, at least 80 met unnatural deaths (homicides, suicides, accidents, unknown); the others were suspicious heart attacks and illnesses, etc. JFK Calc has all the information required for a robust analysis: a) known witness universe, b) official cause of death, c) average unnatural mortality rates and d) the relevant time period (1964-1978).

Some have questioned the relevance of the unnatural and suspicious witness deaths related to the assassination, but 68 were called to testify in four investigations: 30 testified at the Warren Commission, 18 were sought by prosecutor Jim Garrison at the Clay Shaw trial, 9 by the Church Senate Intelligence Committee, 25 at the House Select Committee on Assassinations (14 were sought in sought in two investigations). These witnesses were indisputably relevant – as were others who were not sought to testify.

The probability analysis is straightforward; it is not a theoretical exercise. It is a mathematical proof of conspiracy based on historic mortality statistics, death rates. The probabilities are calculated using the Poisson formula. This is a challenge to those who claim that the deaths do not prove a conspiracy: To substantiate your claim, you must refute the witnesses cause of death, unnatural mortality rates and the Poisson formula.


An actuary engaged by the London Times calculated the probability that at least EIGHTEEN witnesses would die within three years of the JFK assassination as 1 in 100,000 TRILLION. The calculation is mentioned in the 1973 film Executive Action based on a book by the original JFK researcher and lawyer Mark Lane. The film starred Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Will Geer.

The actuary’s probability is actually very conservative. At least 42 JFK-related witnesses died unnaturally in the three years following the assassination. Using the 0.000220 WEIGHTED JFK-witness mortality rate, the probability is E-53 (1/TRILLION^4).

The number of deaths spiked during the 1977-78 House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigation of the JFK and MLK murders. The HSCA determined that both were conspiracies.

Warren Commission apologists have suggested that there were many more than 1,400 witnesses. The FBI claimed to have interviewed 25,000. But how many were material? The probability that 25 of 25,000 witnesses would be murdered in the three years following the assassination is 2E-11 or 1 in 40 billion.

To put these numbers in perspective, there are approximately 7E17 (700,000 trillion) grains of sand on the earth and 3E23 (300 billion trillion) stars in the universe.


Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination by Michael Benson, provides information on more than 1,400 JFK-related individuals (suspects, victims, witnesses, law enforcement officials and investigators) involved in the assassination.The book is based on years of research using a wealth of data sources and a detailed analysis of the Warren Commission’s twenty-six volumes. The JFK Calc spreadsheet includes 97 witnesses listed in Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination.

Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination by Richard Belzer and David Wayne is a comprehensive analysis of fifty witness deaths and cites the probability calculations presented here.

Crossfire by Jim Marrs lists 103 individuals related to the assassination who died mysteriously from 1963-1978. The latest version refers to my analysis.


Suppose that on Nov. 22, 1963, 1400 individuals were selected at random from the entire U.S. population. Further suppose that within one year, at least 18 would die unnaturally under mysterious circumstances. Based on unnatural death mortality rates, only 1 in a random group of 1400 would be expected to die unnaturally.

There are two possibilities. The 18 unnatural deaths were…
1) unrelated. It was just a 1 in 1000 trillion coincidence.
2) related. There was a common factor -a connection- between them.

We can confidently rule out 1). Then if the 18 unnatural deaths were related, what was the connection?

Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth. – Arthur Conan Doyle


There were at least 18 unnatural deaths of JFK-related witnesses within one year of the assassination. In any given year, only one unnatural death would be expected in a random group of 1400. The probability that at least 18 would die unnaturally in any given year is 1 in 1000 trillion (see the mathematical proof below).

The 18 deaths could not have been a coincidence. There had to be a COMMON FACTOR. It could have been a) they were interviewed by the Warren Commission, b) scheduled to be interviewed, c) were in the commission witness index or d) related and not interviewed. If they were JFK-related, the deaths were not random. One must therefore conclude that the assassination was a conspiracy.

Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, was shot by Jack Ruby in front of millions of television viewers on Nov. 24, 1963. He was conveniently disposed of before he could get a lawyer after claiming that he was “just a patsy”. The transcript of Oswald’s interrogation was destroyed.

In 1977, seven top FBI officials died suddenly in the six months from June to November. Two had testified to the Warren Commission; two were #3 FBI officials; two were forensic experts. William Sullivan, a #3 FBI official, died from an “accidental” gunshot while hunting, just before he was scheduled to testify at HSCA. James Cadigan, an FBI document expert, died from a fall in his home. The others died from heart attacks.


In a response to a letter from the 1977 House Select Committee on Assassinations, London Sunday Times Legal Manager Anthony Whitaker wrote: “Our piece about the odds against the deaths of the Kennedy witnesses was, I regret to say, based on a careless journalistic mistake and should not have been published. This was realized by The Sunday Times editorial staff after the first edition – the one which goes to the United States – had gone out, and later editions were amended. There was no question of our actuary having got his answer wrong: it was simply that we asked him the wrong question. He was asked ” what were the odds against 15 named people out of the population of the United States dying within a short period of time” to which he replied -correctly – that they were very high. However, if one asks what are the odds against 15 of those included in the Warren Commission Index dying within a given period, the answer is, of course, that they are much lower. Our mistake was to treat the reply to the former question as if it dealt with the latter – hence the fundamental error in our first edition report, for which we apologize”.

That settled the matter for the HSCA which did not bother to ask U.S. mathematicians to analyze the probabilities. One must ask: Why not?

Whitaker obfuscated a very simple mathematical problem: to determine the probabilities of unnatural JFK-related deaths over relevant time intervals: 1, 3, 14 years. He did so by leaving out the word unnatural.

The Times legal manager made two fundamental errors. The first was an incomplete and misleading statement of the problem. He implicitly assumed deaths of all types, natural and unnatural. He did not distinguish between the two categories. The probability calculations must be based on the expected number of unnatural (not total) deaths.

The second error was the omission of relevant numerical data: He did not provide unnatural death mortality statistics. He failed to show the probability calculations. Why not? Was it because it would prove that the actuary’s calculation was essentially correct?

If the London Times was interested in the truth, it would have confirmed these results:

1. Incorrect problem definition: Calculate the probability that 15 named JFK-witnesses would die in one year. Given the 1964 unnatural death rate (0.000825), the probability is 0.000825^15 that 15 named individuals would die unnaturally. The odds that 15 named individuals would die of any cause is of course much higher.

2. Correct definition: Calculate the probability that at least 15 material witnesses in a known group would die unnaturally in one year.

Given the 1964 UNNATURAL MORTALITY RATE (0.000825), the probability that at least 15 of 1400 RANDOM individuals would die unnaturally in 1964 is 1 in 445 BILLION (2.0E-12).

Given the 1964 JFK-WEIGHTED AVERAGE UNNATURAL MORTALITY RATE (0.000163), the probability that at least 15 of 1400 JFK-related individuals would die unnaturally in 1964 is 1 in 6 BILLION TRILLION (1.47E-22). In fact, there were at least 21 unnatural JFK-related deaths in the first year, so the probabilities are even lower. Of course, the odds that at least 15 would die of any cause is much higher: 1 in 2.


The probability calculations are based on the 0.000815 average annual unnatural mortality rate in 1964-78.

The probability P of at least n unnatural deaths in a group of N individuals, for time period T years, given unnatural mortality rate R, is P(n)= Poisson(n, E), where E=R*N*T is the expected number of unnatural deaths. As E increases, the probability increases. The probabilities of various unnatural deaths for a range of witnesses is displayed in a Probability Sensitivity Matrix.

The Poisson distribution is used to calculate the probability of a rare event when the probability of an event (P) is very small and the number of trials (N) is large, and therefore the expected number of events (P*N) is a moderate-sized quantity.

The probability of an unlikely event is calculated in Excel as P = POISSON (n, a, type) where n is the observed number of events; a is the expected number; type is a logical value that determines the form of the probability distribution, discrete (False) or cumulative (True).

In 1964, the annual unnatural death rate was 0.000825. Therefore, the expected number of unnatural deaths in 1964 in a random group of 1400 was 1.155 = 000825*1400. In other words, we would normally expect approximately ONE unnatural death in the group. But there were n=18 unnatural witness deaths within one year of the assassination.
N = 1400 = number of witnesses
n = 18 = number of unnatural deaths in 1964
a = 1.155 = 000825*1400 = expected number of unnatural deaths

The Poisson formula is: P(n) = a^n * exp (-a) / n!
P (18) = 6.55E-16 = 1.155^18 * exp (-1.155) / 18!

The probability of EXACTLY n=18 unnatural deaths:
P (n) = Poisson (n, a, false)
P (18) = Poisson (18, 1.155, false) = 6.55E-16.
P (18) = 1 in 1,526,824,370,949,295

The probability of AT LEAST 18 unnatural deaths:
P (>17) = 1 – Poisson (17, 1.155, true)
P (>17) = 7.77E-16 or 1 in 1,286,742,750,677,285


At least 30 of 552 witnesses died suspiciously (n=18 unnaturally) in the T=15 years from 1964-1978. Normally, 7 unnatural deaths would be expected. Using the 0.000257 weighted witness mortality rate, the probability of at least 18 deaths is ZERO:
P = E-11 = 1- POISSON (17, 2.13, false)
P = 1 in 60 billion

Now let’s calculate the probability of at least 11 homicides. Using the annual 1964-78 national homicide rate (0.000084), we would expect one homicide among the 552 Warren Commission witnesses. E = 0.65 = 552*15*0.000084
The probability of at least 11 homicides is:
P = 1 – Poisson (n-1, E, true)
P = 1 – Poisson (10, 0.70, true)
P = 2.54E-10 = 1 in 4 billion

Four Investigations
Approximately 1100 material witnesses were sought to testify in four JFK-related investigations: Warren Commission, Garrison/Shaw Trial, Senate Intelligence Hearings and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). At least 67 of the 1100 died under suspicious circumstances and are included in the JFK Calc witness database. It is obvious that the 31 WC witnesses who died unnaturally and suspiciously were relevant; they testified. The vast majority of the others sought in the three investigations that followed died suspiciously shortly before they could testify.

Of the 67 deaths, 39 were unnatural (28 homicides). Twelve died from suspiciously timed heart attacks and 12 from illnesses and natural causes. David Ferrie supposedly committed suicide a few days before he was scheduled to testify before a grand jury at the Clay Shaw trial in 1967. Sam Giancana was murdered before he had a chance to testify at the Church Senate hearings in 1975. George de Morenschildt supposedly shot himself the day he was notified of his interview by the HSCA. Seven (7) top FBI officials died within a six month period in 1977 prior to their scheduled testimony at the HSCA. And there were many more.

Unweighted and Weighted Mortality Rates (1964-78)
Nationally, accidents comprised 66% of unnatural deaths compared to 11% for homicides, but 34 of 78 (44%) JFK-related deaths were ruled homicides. The rates must be weighted by cause of death to calculate probabilities. If restricted to homicides, the calculation is simple as it is based on just one rate.

The weighted rate is the sum-product of the individual unnatural rates and corresponding deaths (34 homicides, 24 accidents, 16 suicides, 4 unknown):
R = 0.000246 = (34*0.0000808 + 24*0.000594 + 16*0.000130 +4*0.00001)/78

Age-adjusted mortality rates

– The age-adjusted rate is an index measure, the magnitude of which has no intrinsic value. It should be used for comparison purposes only.

– If it is appropriate to use age-adjustment, then the comparison should not be affected by the selection of a standard population. Conversely, if the comparison can be affected by the choice of a standard population, then it is not appropriate to age-adjust for that comparison.

– The standard population should not be ‘‘abnormal’’ or ‘‘unnatural’’ when compared to populations under study. Considering the amount of published material, there are advantages to using the U.S. standard population.

– Standardization is not a substitute for the examination of age-specific rates. While standardization is most often applied to a series of age-specific death rates, direct or indirect standardization can also be applied to variables other than age. For example, infant mortality rates can be adjusted for birthweight distribution.

“Most population-based mortality objectives and sub-objectives in Healthy People 2000 are tracked using age-adjusted rates from the National Vital Statistics System (appendix table I). The exceptions are deaths from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, all motor vehicle crashes, and work-related injuries (objectives 4.1, 9.3, and 10.1), which are monitored with crude death rates from other data systems. In addition, objectives that refer to specific age groups are tracked with age-specific rather than age-adjusted rates.

Although the age-adjusted death rate (ADR) is one of the most frequently used indexes of mortality, there is often confusion concerning the basic concepts of its construction, use, and interpretation. Some of the persistent issues include the appropriateness of the ADR as a summary measure, the validity of comparisons between ADRs, the method of calculation, and the appropriateness of alternate summary measures.”

1964-78 Average Unnatural Mortality Rates
Homicide (34): 0.000084
Accident (24): 0.000594
Suicide (16): 0.000130
Unknown (4): 0.000014
Total Unnatural (78): 0.000822

1964-78 Average Natural Mortality Rates
Cardiac: 0.004913
Cancer: 0.001991
Stroke: 0.001562
Other : 0.001025
Total Natural (44): 0.009385

1964-78 Average Mortality
Natural.. 0.009385
Unnatural 0.000822
Total…. 0.010207

At least 18 deaths (13 unnatural); assume 454 witnesses

Normally, 2 unnatural deaths would be expected.
Using the 0.000209 weighted rate, the probability is
P = E-17 = POISSON (13, .29, true)
P = 1 in 100,000 trillion

WARREN COMMISSION- 418 witnesses (CIA)
Normally, 5 unnatural deaths would be expected.
Using the 0.00057 WC witness rate, the probability of at least 18 deaths is
P = E-13 = 1- POISSON (17, 1.61, false)
P = 1 in 5 trillion

Probability of at least 11 homicides is ZERO:
P = E-11 = 1-POISSON(10, 0.53, false)
P = 1 in 70 billion

1400 MATERIAL WITNESSES (Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination)
1964-66: at least 42 officially ruled unnatural deaths

Normally, 3 would be expected.
Using the 0.000213 weighted rate, the probability is
P = 2.75E-54 = POISSON (42, 0.89, false)
P = 1 in 1 trillion trillion trillion trillion

1964-78: at least 78 officially ruled unnatural deaths
Normally, 17 would be expected.
Using the 0.000247 weighted rate, the probability is
P = 2.76E-62 = POISSON (78, 5.18, false)
P = 1 in 1 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion

1964-78: at least 34 officially ruled homicides
Normally, 2 would be expected.
Using the 0.000084 average national homicide rate, the probability is
P = E-31 = POISSON (34, 1.57, false)
P = 1 in 6 million trillion trillion

Probability that EXACTLY n out of 1400 witnesses die unnaturally in one year
(declines EXPONENTIALLY as n increases)

0 3.15E-01 3
1 3.64E-01 3
2 2.10E-01 5
3 8.09E-02 12
4 2.34E-02 43
5 5.40E-03 185
6 1.04E-03 963
7 1.71E-04 5,834
8 2.47E-05 40,409
9 3.18E-06 314,873
10 3.67E-07 2,726,172
11 3.85E-08 25,963,547
12 3.71E-09 269,751,135
13 3.29E-10 3,036,159,956
14 2.72E-11 36,801,938,859
15 2.09E-12 477,947,257,903
16 1.51E-13 6,620,914,395,190
17 1.03E-14 97,450,688,067,732
18 6.58E-16 1,526,824,370,949,295
19 4.00E-17 24,983,141,484,728,104
20 2.31E-18 432,608,510,558,062,460
21 1.27E-19 7,865,609,282,873,863,200
22 6.67E-21 149,821,129,197,597,360,000

Mark Lane is the lawyer who would have represented Oswald. He is the author of several landmark books on the Kennedy assassination. Rush to Judgment was the seminal book which debunked the Warren Commission.

In this video, Lane interviews Penn Jones, a JFK researcher who investigated the strange deaths of many assassination witnesses.
JFK-related witnesses and cause of death.
The Conspiracy Zone shows the analysis presented here.
The Men Who Killed Kennedy
The Forgotten Victims to a Genuine Conspiracy – Part 1
The Forgotten Victims to a Genuine Conspiracy – Part 2

Injury and Death Statistics


Posted by on April 8, 2011 in JFK


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

23 responses to “Probability Analysis and Database of JFK Assassination Witness Deaths

  1. Salvador Mongan

    March 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch as I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  2. LanceThruster

    June 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    A professor at my university did a supposed refutation of Oliver Stone’s “JFK” when it came out.

    My pal, Bernie the Attorney, upon hearing the details of his talk said, “That guy’s either stupid or a liar, and I don’t think [univ. name] is in the habit of hiring stupid professors.”

    Thanks for a great piece.

    • Ramon F Herrera

      November 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Is that Marquette University?

      [I am only half kidding]

  3. Philip A. Stahl

    June 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

    One of the most comprehensive statistical analyses I have seen on the JFK witness issue, which bolsters my hypothesis that the architects who planned the JFK hit added a ‘redundancy insurance’ factor in the form of a designated kill squad to take out any and all witnesses that might go public.

    You are also exactly correct on the use, application of the Poisson which I myself have used in solar flare statistical analyses. (See, e.g. the issue of Solar Physics from May 1984, and the paper by me and co-authored by Anthony Achong.)

    • Richard Charnin

      June 30, 2012 at 1:09 am

      Thanks Philip.

      The Poisson Distribution is also applicable for proving Election Fraud.

      The probability of a presidential state exit poll being outside the margin of error is 5%. But 131 of 274 exit polls from 1988-2008 fell outside the MoE, 131 favoring the Republican and 4 for Democrat. Only 14 exit polls would be expected to exceed the MoE assuming a 30% cluster effect.

      The probability of 131 exceeding the MoE in favor of the Republican:
      P= E-116 = poisson(131,.025*274,false)

  4. Robert Kirkconnell

    January 28, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I just finished a book that included the JFK assassination, and I have been looking for the info you have here for a while. I found bits, pieces, etc., but nothing that plainly shows the figures where you can see at a glance what the deal is. Thanks. My thesis is that America went from a Republic (at least the appearance of one) to a Pathocracy when JFK’s head exploded in Dallas. I would like to use some of your info in my next book, if you would not mind. Of course I will cite you as the source.

    • Richard Charnin

      January 29, 2013 at 9:00 am


      I’m glad you like the info and analysis. What is the name of the book you just read (wrote)? What will your next book be about and when will it be out?

      FYI: The probability analysis will be included in two books coming out this year on JFK.

  5. joe zircon

    February 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    The JFK witnesses are selected after the fact (in 1993) and many other people who lived are ignored. This is all refuted on Amazon here:

    • Richard Charnin

      February 20, 2013 at 7:16 am

      Of course they were selected after the fact that the witnesses died unnaturally.

      Many witnesses were not interviewed although they wanted to tell the WARREN COMMISSION THAT THEY SAW SHOTS FIRED FROM THE GRASSY KNOLL.

      Thanks for the link to Amazon. It shows that the Warren Commission defenders have no case.

      In fact we don’t need scores of JFK-related mysterious UNLIKELY deaths to prove a conspiracy. We just need one: Ruby killing Oswald – and Ruby himself admitting that it was a conspiracy in this interview.


      Do you truly believe there was no conspiracy?
      Or just that the math doesn’t prove it?

      • Samuel Fisher

        April 14, 2013 at 7:37 am

        What are the odds that a murder suspect will be killed while in police custody?

  6. briandmumford

    August 27, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    I’d be interested in knowing if any anomalies pop up after January 13th of 1999 when Judyth contacted ABC who I believe directed her to CBS/60-Minutes (which interesting in and of itself). What got me thinking about it was realizing that JFK Jr. died in 1999 along with his best friend (who died of cancer less than a month later). Judyth has a long list of many musicians from New Orleans who died within a year or so of her coming out as well. Warren commission attorney David Bellen died a few days after she came forward. He was already in the hospital after taking a fall 12 days earlier.

  7. briandmumford

    August 27, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    We’re lucky having you in the world crunching these numbers Richard! I have a question, did you include Roger Craig in 1975? I’m only asking because it was an apparent “suicide” and I didn’t see any orange for that year.

  8. Bob Franklin

    August 27, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    About the same as a reporter being killed in a police station in L.A. from an accidental gunshot wound, due to “horseplay with a gun”.

  9. briandmumford

    August 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I knew you had to of included Craig, I was just wondering why I didn’t see orange in the graph depicting the cause of death in 1975. Thanks for the chart Richard, it’s excellent!

  10. discount

    September 22, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for posting this nice article

  11. swimanog

    June 9, 2020 at 6:59 am

    Richard I appreciate your work. What is the probability that two marksmen hit JFK in the head simultaneously (as near to simultaneously in human-reaction-assessment terms) – both coming from the front?

    • Richard Charnin

      June 15, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      I cannot calculate the probability. But it is possible.

  12. Charles Romano

    June 19, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Richard- Incredible work is done in the area of the assassination that for many, seemingly glance through. However, your works, as you mentioned, only adds more credibility to the murder of JFK as being a conspiracy~ Thank you for pulling all this information together and into a coherent read for many of us~


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