Tag Archives: JFK Calc

JFK: Confirming the London Sunday Times Actuary’s 100,000 Trillion to One Odds

JFK: Confirming the London Sunday Times Actuary’s 100,000 Trillion to One Odds

Richard Charnin
Sept.1, 2014
Updated Oct.1, 2014

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

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JFK Calc Spreadsheet Database
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An actuary engaged by the London Sunday Times calculated 100,000 trillion to one odds against 18 JFK material witnesses dying in the three year period ending in Feb. 1967. The odds were displayed in the 1972 film “Executive Action”.

“In the three-year period which followed the murder of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, 18 material witnesses died – six by gunfire, three in motor accidents, two by suicide, one from a cut throat, one from a karate chop to the neck, three from heart attacks and two from natural causes”.

The calculation has been the source of much controversy. Assuming the data and calculation methodology were essentially correct, then it was clear proof of a conspiracy and refuted the Warren Commission conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin. Penn Jones was the first independent researcher to investigate unnatural deaths:

The Poisson Probability Function

The actuary’s odds are matched assuming N=454 witnesses (the CIA claimed 418 testified  in person at the Warren Commission). A total of 552 testified (including depositions). There were n=13 unnatural deaths among the 18 material witnesses. We will ignore the five suspicious natural deaths.

The expected number E of unnatural deaths is based on N=454,T=3 years, R=0.000209 the weighted unnatural death rate:
E = N*T*R= 0.285 = 454*3*0.000209
P = Poisson (13, E, false)
P = 9.83E-18 = 1 in 100,000 trillion

It is important to note that the actuary worked with limited information. There were actually at least 42 unnatural JFK-related deaths in the three years following the assassination. View the JFK Calc spreadsheet:

There were at least 10 unnatural deaths among the 418 witnesses who testified in person at the Warren Commission in the three years ending Feb. 1967. The probability is:P= 2.4E-15 = 1 in 400 trillion

There were 20 unnatural deaths among the 552 total witnesses in the 15 years from 1964-78. The probability is:P= 6.35E-16 = 1 in 1500 trillion

In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigated the allegation (based on the actuary) that a statistically improbable number of individuals with some direct or peripheral association with the Kennedy assassination died as a result of that assassination, thereby raising the specter of conspiracy.

The HSCA declared that the actuary’s calculation was invalid, claiming that the universe (number of witnesses) was unknowable. Warren Commission defenders (Bugliosi, McAdams, Posner, etc.) have questioned the relevance of witness connections to the assassination. The HSCA made a number of errors in coming to that conclusion, It did not cite the
1. suspicious deaths of anti-Castro, CIA, mafia, Dallas police
2. unnatural witness deaths, the key statistic in the analysis
3. known universe of 552 Warren Commission witnesses
4. 500+ called to testify by Garrison, Church and HSCA
5. identity of the actuary
6. methodology used by the actuary
7. 100+ suspicious deaths
8. deaths of Oswald, Ruby, DeMorenschildt, Ferrie, Craig etc.
9. 7 FBI officials due to testify at HSCA died in a 6 month period in 1977.

Unnatural Mortality Rates and Expected Deaths
U.S. National Center for Health Statistics

In order to calculate the probability of a given number of unnatural deaths in a given group, we must first determine the expected number (E) of unnatural deaths.

E= N*T*R, where N is the size of the witness universe, T the time period under study in years, and R the average unnatural mortality rate.

Let H = the number of homicides, A = accidental deaths, S = suicides.
The actuary’s 13 unnatural deaths consist of:
H=8 homicides, A=3 accidents and S=2 suicides.

The corresponding average mortality rates for the period from 1964-66:
HR= 0.000061, AR= 0.000658, SR = 0.000128
The total unnatural rate (unweighted):
RT = HR+ AR+ SR = 0.000847

The total number ET of expected unnatural deaths:
ET = 1.15 = 454*3*0.000847
Only one unnatural death would be expected! But there were 13.

The weighted average mortality rate R is:
R = (H*HR + A*AR + S*SR)/ (H+A+S)
The average weighted unnatural rate:
R = .000209 = (8*0.000061+ 3*0.000658+ 2*0.000128)/13

The expected number E of unnatural deaths is based on the weighted rate:
E = 0.285 = 454*3*0.000209

The Poisson Probability Function
The Poisson function calculates the probability of 13 unnatural deaths in three years assuming 454 witnesses to match the actuary’s odds.
P = Poisson (13, 0.285, false)
P = 9.83E-18 = 1 in 100,000 trillion

If the 3 accidents and 2 suicides were actually homicides, then applying the 0.000061 average homicide rate, we have 13 homicides among 454 witnesses over three years.
E= 0.083= 454*3*0.000061
P= Poisson (13, 0.083, false)
P = 1.33E-24= 1 in 750 million trillion

Data Source
The reference Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination contains information on 1400+ JFK-related suspects, victims, witnesses,Law Enforcement officials and investigators. Approximately 100 died suspiciously in 1964-78 and are listed in the JFK Calc spreadsheet database.

Crossfire, by Jim Marrs, includes a list of 103 “convenient deaths”.

There are 122 suspicious deaths (78 officially ruled unnatural) listed in the spreadsheet JFK Calc. The probability of 78 unnatural deaths is 1 in trillions.

The Simkin JFK Spartacus Education website contains biographies of 656 JFK-related individuals. Approximately 70 died suspiciously (44 unnatutally, included 22 homicides). The probability is 1 in trillions. View the complete Simkin list and the 70 unnatural deaths in JFK Calc.

HSCA Testimony
The chief of research of the HSCA, Jacqueline Hess, testified:
Our final conclusion on the issue is that the available evidence does not establish anything about the nature of these deaths which would indicate that the deaths were in some manner, either direct or peripheral, caused by the assassination of President Kennedy or by any aspect of the subsequent investigation.

One, to compute valid actuarial statistics, one must be able to determine to a reasonable degree of specificity, the universe of individuals to which the specific group is being compared. In other words, we would have to determine the total number of individuals who exist in each of the categories into which those individuals who have mysteriously died, fall. This means that we would need to establish the number of individuals who in any manner could be considered witnesses to the assassination of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, the number of individuals who had any contact with Oswald or Ruby or with Ruby’s nightclubs, the number of individuals who professed to have material knowledge of the case or of the major figures in the case, all news reporters who had expressed interest, taken interviews or investigated the case, and all Members of Congress who sought to introduce legislation concerning the investigation of the case. This, as you can imagine, would have been an impossible task.

This was an incorrect statement. The universe of witnesses could be the four investigations in which at least 67 died suspiciously from 1964-78.

Two, in addition, for each of the individuals identified in the groups I have just listed, we would have to establish age, sex, race, occupation, geographical location, and any other extraordinary factors which have to be taken into consideration in order to compute mortality rates. Again, this was judged to be an impossible job.

Another incorrect statement. Natural mortality rates (heart attack, cancer, etc.) are age adjusted. Unnatural death rates are not age-related.

Three, we would need to determine the number of individuals in these categories who have, in fact, died and the number of individuals who, according to actuarial mortality rates, should have died.We had thus established the impossibility of attempting establish through the application of actuarial principles, any meaningful implications about the existence or absence of a conspiracy. Despite the fact that an inference of conspiracy, as here postulated by the critics, did not exist, we nevertheless decided not to dismiss the cited deaths out of hand, but rather, to look more closely at the nature of certain specific deaths to determine whether or not they could individually be considered mysterious or in some other manner a reflection of some sort of conspiracy.

Impossible to determine an approximate number of JFK-related individuals who died suspiciously? That is a canard. All the HSCA had to do was view the list of those called to testify in four JFK investigations – including the HSCA. It ignored 100+ deaths, including 7 top FBI officials who died suspiciously within 6 months in 1977, De Morenschildt and others who were due to testify at HSCA. Note: Hess noted 23 names, including two key Mafia figures (Sam Giancana and John Roselli). But the two were not included in the detailed report requested by the HSCA interrogator. Strange.

Mr. EDGAR – Will you provide for the record a detailed listing of the 21 names and the evidence you have found relating to their deaths?
Ms. HESS – Yes. Do you want me to read them for the record?
Mr. EDGAR – It might be helpful.

Ms. HESS – Edward Benavides, Albert Guy Bogard, Hale Boggs, Lee Bowers, Jr., Bill Chesher, Nicholas J. Chetta, David Goldstein, Thomas Hale Howard, William Hunter, Clyde Johnson, Dorothy Kilgallen, Thomas Henry Killam, Jim Koethe, FNU Levens, Nancy Jane Mooney, Teresa Norton, Earlene Roberts, Harold Russell, Marilyn April Walle, a.k.a. Betty McDonald, William W. Whaley, James R. Worrell, Sam Giancana, John Roselli.

Mr. EDGAR – Thank you. I think it very helpful for the record that those names be included. Can you indicate why Mr. DeMohrenschildt’s name was not included?
Ms. HESS – His was one of those which deemed further investigation and became part of a great investigative effort.

Actuary – 18 material witness deaths
M=homicide, A=accident, S=suicide, H=heart attack, O=other
W = testified at WC
Note:* No anti-Castro; CIA; Mafia; Dallas police in HSCA list of 21 deaths

M 6405 GARY UNDERHILL * CIA/Life magazine, predicted his death


O 6606 FRANK MARTIN W * Dallas Policeman (sudden cancer)
M 6610 WILLIAM PITZER * Navy autopsy photographer, near retirement

O 6701 JACK RUBY W * Connected to Dallas PD, mob (sudden cancer)
M 6702 DAVID FERRIE * CIA, knew Oswald
M 6702 ELADIO DEL VALLE * anti-Castro, knew Ferrie

Convenient deaths spiked in 1964 (Warren Commission) and 1977 (House Select Committee).


Posted by on September 1, 2014 in JFK


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JFK: Cover-up by the numbers

JFK: Cover-up by the Numbers

Richard Charnin
Aug.29, 2014
Updated: Sept.7, 2014

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

JFK Blog Posts
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Key Statistics in the JFK Cover-up

London Times actuary
ZERO (E-17) probability (1 in 100,000 trillion) of 18 witness deaths by Feb. 1967
13 unnatural deaths (8 homicides,3 accidents,2 suicides)
454 approximate number of witnesses used for calculation
552 Warren Commission witnesses (1964-78)

1 shooter according to the Warren Commission
3 shots according to the Warren Commission
4 DPD officials identified a 7.65 Mauser on the 6th floor of the TSBD
6 shots fired based on HSCA acoustic analysis of dictabelt recording

Magic Bullet
2 FBI agents attending autopsy said there was no bullet exit from the back wound
5 Ford raised the back wound 5 inches to accommodate the Single Bullet Theory
7 wounds supposedly caused by the Magic Bullet

Official ruled vs. Expected Unnatural Deaths
1400 estimated witnesses (1964-78):
34 homicides; 2 expected
16 suicides; 3 expected > 13 homicides
24 accidental; 10 expected > 14 homicides
25 heart attacks; 10 expected > 15 homicides
14 other illness; 6 expected > 8 homicides
ZERO probability of 84 estimated homicides = 34+ 13+ 14+ 15+ 8

Oswald in the Doorway at 12:30
5 TSBD employees testified they were standing in the doorway
6 figures in Altgens6 standing in the doorway

Tippit shooting
10 witnesses saw or heard shots at 1:06PM. The WC said 1:16.
24 MPH required for Oswald to walk 0.8 miles to the scene in two minutes.

22 Parkland Hospital witnesses said there was an entrance wound in the throat
22 Parkland witnesses said there was an exit wound in the right rear of the head
22 Autopsy witnesses said there was an exit wound in the right rear of the head
ZERO probability they were all mistaken.

Suspicious deaths (JFK Calc spreadsheet)
7 FBI officials due to testify at HSCA in 6 months (1977)
13 JFK-related witnesses predicted they would be murdered
20 Jack Ruby contacts
20 of 500 Dealey Plaza witnesses
21 reported by HSCA statistician (there were at least 80 more)
30 Warren Commission witnesses (1964-78)
51 of 122 deaths occurred in the Dallas area (ZERO probability)
67 of 122 witnesses were sought in 4 investigations

Simkin JFK Index (Spartacus Educational)
656 JFK-related individuals
70 official unnatural and suspicious deaths (ZERO probability)
22 homicides. Probability 5.9E-24 (1 in a trillion trillion)
44 unnatural deaths. Probability 4.4E-41 (1 in a trillion trillion trillion)

Source of Shots Surveys: Witnesses who said Grassy Knoll
35 McAdams (36%)
51 Feldman (61%)
52 Galanor (52%)
93 Charnin (77%)
100% Probability of Grassy Knoll shooter

JFK Limo; Zapruder film
59 Limo witnesses
33 said the Limo came to a FULL STOP
44 heard a double-bang of nearly simultaneous shots
100% Probability of FULL LIMO STOP
100% Probability of Zapruder film alteration (does not show full stop)

Suspicious Deaths of JFK-related individuals (1964-78)
1400+ JFK-related individuals in Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination
122 suspicious deaths listed in JFK Calc
34 officially ruled homicides (ZERO probability)
78 officially ruled unnatural deaths (ZERO probability)
84 estimated homicides based on statistical expectation of other causes
99 estimated unnatural deaths based on expectation of natural causes
ZERO (E-31 or 1 in 6 million trillion trillion) probability of 34 ruled homicides

Witness Deaths spiked in 1964 (Warren Commission) and 1977 (HSCA)

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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in JFK


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JFK Calc: Questions on the Spreadsheet Analysis

JFK Calc: Questions on the Spreadsheet Analysis

Richard Charnin
April 9, 2014
Updated:June 7, 2014

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

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Warren Commission apologists invariably thrash JFK-related witness death analysis – as well as the observations of Dealey Plaza and medical eyewitnesses. Rather, they ask questions that are irrelevant and meant to distract from the facts. They don’t bother to actually read the posts, comprehend the logic or deal with the evidence.

The JFK Calc spreadsheet database includes 126 witnesses who died unnaturally and suspiciously (122 from 1964-78).

This post will present the answers to questions that should legitimately be asked on the JFK witness mortality data and calculation methodology.

1) What is the data source of the witnesses?
See Jim Marrs’ “Crossfire” (103), Michael Benson’s “Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination (1400)”, Richard Belzer and David Wayne’s “Hit List” (50) and the Simkin Educational website (656).

The analysis is cited in Hit List, Crossfire, Judyth Baker’s Ferrie, Phil Nelson’s LBJ:Mastermind to Colossus, physicist/astronomer/mathematician Philip Stahl and political author Andrew Kreig.

Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses and associated probabilities are based on articles by these excellent researchers: Stewart Galanor, Harold Feldman, Vince Palamara and John Craig.

2) Of the 122 total suspicious deaths in JFK Calc, how many were officially ruled unnatural?
There were 78 officially ruled unnatural deaths (34 homicides, 24 accidents, 16 suicides, 4 unknown). But a statistical analysis based on historical accident, suicide and heart attack mortality rates indicates at least 84 homicides and 99 unnatural deaths.

......Homicide Unnatural Total
.....Ruled Est Ruled Est Deaths
1964... 12 19... 19 23... 25
1964-66 16 35... 35 42... 48
1964-78 34 84... 78 99... 122

3) Can you prove that the witnesses were relevant?
Ninety-six (96) of the 122 are listed among the 1400+ in “Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination”. Sixty-seven (67) testified or were sought in four investigations: Warren Commission (1964), Garrison/Shaw trial (1967-69), Church senate Intelligence (1975), HSCA (1976-78). The investigators must have considered them relevant or they would not have been sought to testify.

Simkin’s JFK site contains 656 JFK-related biographies. Sixty-four (64) are in JFK Calc. In this group, 40 deaths were officially ruled unnatural, a one in 1 trillion^3 probability. There were 22 official homicides among the 40. But there were 47 estimated true homicides.

Satisfy yourself. Do your homework. Read one of the above books. Run a google search of the names.I do not have to prove they were all relevant. The burden of proof is on the apologists to prove they were all insignificant and unrelated to the assassination.

4) What method is used to calculate the probabilities?
The steps are:
1) Determine the number of witnesses in the group,
2) specify the time period,
3) determine the number of unnatural deaths,
4) apply the applicable unnatural mortality rates for the period.
5) calculate the number of expected unnatural deaths.
6) calculate the probability using the Poisson distribution function.

5) Why do you claim that many officially ruled accidents, suicides and heart attacks were homicides?
Any analysis should consider the anomalous facts of each case (timing, etc.) which indicate homicide. We can estimate the approximate number of true homicides by calculating the statistically expected number of accidents, suicides and heart attacks. We use respective mortality rates for each cause of death. The official ruled number of accidents, suicides and heart attacks far exceeds the expected number. The difference between the official and expected numbers is a fair approximation of the number of true homicides. deatZJYllKTnc#gid=74

6) What is the Paradigm Shift?
It’s a new way of looking at the problem. There is no need to consider motive in the death of any particular witness. Motive is not a factor in the calculation of probabilities. The only factors are purely numerical: the total number of witnesses in the designated “universe”, the number who died unnaturally, the cause of death, and the time period under study. The 67 who were sought to testify were obviously relevant – and so were the other 55. But to analyze the relevance of a given witness is a moot point. We must consider the total number. The motive for any given death is a non-issue in calculating the probability.

7) Didn’t the HSCA statistician claim that calculation of the odds was impossible since the universe of witnesses was unknown?
Yes, but the HSCA was wrong. It did not consider groups of witnesses where the number was known: For example, 552 testified or gave affidavits at the Warren Commission (the CIA stated that 418 witnesses testified). Approximately 600 were sought or testified in three subsequent investigations.

8) Didn’t the HSCA statistician claim that the London Times actuary’s calculation of 100,000 trillion to one odds was invalid?
Yes, but the HSCA was wrong. The actuary’s math was confirmed assuming 454 witnesses given 13 unnatural deaths (8 homicides, 3 accidents, 2 suicides) in three years. The Times could have asked the actuary to calculate the probability of 16 officially ruled homicides from 1964-66 based on the average 0.000061 national rate: 1.3E-23 (1 in 70 billion trillion); or the probability of 34 officially ruled homicides from 1964-78 using triple the average 0.000084 national rate: 7.6E-17 (1 in 1,000 trillion).

9) Didn’t the HSCA investigate a number of suspicious witness deaths?
The HSCA noted just 21 deaths but there were at least 100 others. Unbelievably, 7 top FBI officials died (5 heart attacks, 2 accidents) within a six month period in 1977 just before they were due to testify at HSCA! Assuming 20 FBI were called to testify, the probability that seven would die is one in 200 trillion. There were a dozen other prospective HSCA witnesses who died before they could testify.

10) Aren’t you using unproven assumptions?
The data is factual, not assumed: officially ruled unnatural deaths, government mortality statistics, specific time periods. The classic Poisson distribution is used to calculate the probabilities based on factual data. It is a straightforward analysis using public information. It is not a poll.

11) Weren’t witnesses in high risk locations?
Yes, it’s true. Fifty-one (51) of 122 deaths occurred in Dallas. Was this just a coincidence?

12) How are the witnesses classified?
There were Ruby associates,reporters, FBI, CIA, anti-Castro Cubans, mafia, police and others. Most had inside information.

13) How do you know that the timing of deaths was a factor?
Just look at this graph. Notice the spikes in 1964 and 1977. Was it just a coincidence that so many deaths occurred during the Warren Commission and HSCA?

14) Has your study been peer-reviewed?
As stated above, the analysis is cited by Richard Belzer and David Wayne in Hit List and by Jim Marrs in Crossfire. Both are major JFK assassination historical references.

Philip Stahl (“Copernicus”), a prolific author, astronomer, space physicist and mathematician, has cited the JFK-witness death probability analysis in several of his blog posts:

The analysis is available to anyone who wants to review it: JFK researchers, actuaries, mathematicians, media. Now what about McAdams, Posner, Bugliosi and the mainstream media? Not a word. Perhaps because they can’t refute the logic or the math. I asked McAdams to have one of the Marquette math professors review it. No luck.

15) Do you disagree with John McAdams’ survey that a majority of Dealey Plaza witnesses said shots came from the Texas Book Depository? Yes, for the same reasons Harold Feldman and Stewart Galanor disagree in their surveys. McAdams cooked his numbers by omission and commission.

16) You claim the Zapruder film was altered. What is your evidence?
It is based on the following facts:
First, 33 of 59 witnesses said the JFK limo came to a FULL stop; 13 said NEAR stop. The probability is ZERO that they would ALL be mistaken.
Second, the Z-film does not show even a NEAR stop.
Third, the film does NOT show Secret Service agent Clint Hill covering JFK and Jackie, or giving the thumbs down sign to the following cars.
Fourth, 11 Hollywood photography experts have concluded that the film was altered.
Fifth, the chain of custody was broken.

17) What about the controversy on the location of JFK’s wounds?
Well, 43 of 44 witnesses at Parkland and the autopsy initially claimed there was a large EXIT wound in the right rear of JFK’s head. Parkland doctors said there was an entrance wound in the throat. I won’t bother calculating the probability that they were all mistaken.

18) Do you believe that Oswald fired the shots?
No. For many reasons. Here is just one: 47 Dealey Plaza witnesses heard a double-bang of two nearly instantaneous shots. The alleged Mannlicher Carcano rifle required at least 2.3 seconds between shots. Were all 47 mistaken?
The 1…2.3 pattern
The Double Bang

19) What if your estimates of the number of material witnesses, unnatural deaths and homicides are incorrect? Wouldn’t this invalidate the results?
Not at all. No one can say what the exact numbers are. But they are surely greater than the officially ruled numbers.

The uncertainty is handled by a probability sensitivity analysis. It consists of two tables: a range of witness group size estimates vs ranges of unnatural deaths and homicides. The homicide table ranges from 1400-10000 witnesses and 34 (ruled) to 90 (expected) homicides. All plausible scenario combinations give ZERO probabilities – absolute proof of a conspiracy.

The Dallas 1964-78 homicide rate was triple the national and used in the following calculations.
– 34 officially ruled homicides and a plausible 1400 witness universe:
P= 7.6E-17 or 1 in 13,000 trillion.
– 84 expected homicides and an inflated 5000 witness universe:
P= 4.0E-28 or 1 in 2000 trillion trillion.

20) What about the unnatural deaths of Dealey Plaza witnesses?
There are 20 in JFK Calc. A sensitivity analysis assuming 200-600 witnesses and 8-15 homicides is another strong indicator of a conspiracy. Assuming 400 Dealey Plaza witnesses and given the
– 0.000084 average national homicide rate, the probabilities range from 1 in 15 million (8 homicides) to 1 in 60,000 trillion (15 homicides).
– 0.000253 average Dallas homicide rate, the probabilities range from 1 in 5000 (8 homicides) to 1 in 11 billion (15 homicides).

21) What do you conclude based on the JFK Calc analysis?
The answer should be obvious to anyone who has read and understood the analysis: A conspiracy has been mathematically proven beyond ANY doubt.


Posted by on April 9, 2014 in JFK


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JFK Witness Deaths: Why Wikipedia, HSCA, Bugliosi and Posner got it Wrong

JFK Witness Deaths: Why Wikipedia, HSCA, Bugliosi and Posner got it Wrong

Richard Charnin
Jan. 26, 2014
Updated: Oct.20, 2014

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

JFK Blog Posts
JFK Calc Spreadsheet Database

Wikipedia is incomplete and erroneous on the topic of JFK Witness Deaths. This post will expose its errors of omission and commission. Note that I contacted Wikipedia about a year ago to have a summary of my JFK witness death probability analysis included in the Witness Deaths section. The moderator refused, claiming my analysis was not a published document. Well, they no longer can use that excuse. My work has been cited in “Hit List” by Richard Belzer and David Wayne and by Jim Marrs in his updated version of the classic “Crossfire”. Along with Jim Garrison’s “On the Trail of the Assassins”, “Crossfire” was the basis for Oliver Stone’s “JFK”.

Before discussing the witness deaths, consider this example of glaring misinformation in the Wikipedia section:
“A majority of witnesses who testified on the source of the shots said they came from the direction of the Depository. However, many witnesses thought the shots came from the direction of the Knoll. Only five witnesses, from a total of over one hundred, thought the shots came from two directions simultaneously”.

On the contrary, the majority of witnesses said the shots came from the Grassy Knoll! If Wikipedia can get this wrong, why believe any of its sections on the JFK Assassination? It appears that Wikipedia’s editor has a bias, to put it mildly.

Researcher Harold Feldman wrote:
What follows is the result of a survey of the 121 witnesses to the assassination of President Kennedy whose statements are registered in the twenty-six volumes appended to the Warren Report. On the question of where the shots that killed the President came from, 38 could give no clear opinion and 32 thought they came from the Texas School Book Depository Building (TSBDB). Fifty-one (51) held the shots sounded as if the came from west of the Depository, the area of the grassy knoll on Elm Street, the area directly on the right of the President’s car when the bullets struck.

Note: John McAdams’ survey is the one quoted by Wikipedia. It is the only one of four in which a majority (61%) of Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses claimed that the Texas School Book Depository was the source of the shots. The other surveys have just 39%, 44% and 29%, respectively.

The JFK Calc spreadsheet has a detailed table of the four surveys.

Wikipedia: Witness Deaths
Allegations of mysterious or suspicious deaths of witnesses connected with the Kennedy assassination originated with Penn Jones, Jr. and were brought to national attention by the 1973 film Executive Action. Jim Marrs later presented a list of 103 people he believed died “convenient deaths” under suspect circumstances. He noted that the deaths were grouped around investigations conducted by the Warren Commission, New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Marrs pointed out that “these deaths certainly would have been convenient for anyone not wishing the truth of the JFK assassination to become public.”

Vincent Bugliosi has described the death of journalist Dorothy Kilgallen—who claimed she was granted a private interview with Jack Ruby—as “perhaps the most prominent mysterious death” cited by assassination researchers. According to author Jerome Kroth, Mafia figures Sam Giancana, John Roselli, Carlos Prio, Jimmy Hoffa, Charles Nicoletti, Leo Moceri, Richard Cain,Salvatore Granello, and Dave Yaras were likely murdered to prevent them from revealing their knowledge. According to author Matthew Smith, others with some tie to the case who have died suspicious deaths include Lee Bowers, Gary Underhill, William Sullivan, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, George de Mohrenschildt, four showgirls who worked for Jack Ruby, and Ruby himself.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated another alleged “mysterious death”—that of Rose Cheramie. The Committee reported that Louisiana State Police Lieutenant Francis Fruge traveled to Eunice, Louisiana on November 20, 1963 – two days before the assassination — to pick up Rose Cherami, who had sustained minor injuries after she was hit by a car. Fruge drove Cherami to the hospital and said that on the way there, she “…related to [him] that she was coming from Florida to Dallas with two men who were Italians or resembled Italians.” Fruge asked her what she planned to do in Dallas, to which she replied: “…number one, pick up some money, pick up [my] baby, and … kill Kennedy”. Cherami was admitted and treated at State Hospital in Jackson, Louisiana for alcohol and heroin addiction. State Hospital physician, Dr. Victor Weiss later told a House Select Committee investigator that on November 25—three days after the assassination—one of his fellow physicians told him “…that the patient, Rose Cherami, stated before the assassination that President Kennedy was going to be killed.” Dr. Weiss further reported that Cherami told him after the assassination that she had worked for Jack Ruby and that her knowledge of the assassination originated from “word in the underworld.”After the assassination, Lt. Fruge contacted Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz regarding what he had learned from Cherami, but Captain Fritz told him he “wasn’t interested”. Cherami was found dead by a highway near Big Sandy, Texas on September 4, 1965; she had been run over by a car.

Another “suspicious death” cited by Jim Marrs was that of Joseph Milteer, director of the Dixie Klan of Georgia. Milteer was secretly tape-recorded thirteen days before the assassination telling Miami police informant William Somersett that the murder of Kennedy was “in the working.” Milteer died in 1974 when a heater exploded in his house. The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported in 1979 that Milteer’s information on the threat to the President “was furnished [to] the agents making the advance arrangements before the visit of the President” to Miami, but that “the Milteer threat was ignored by Secret Service personnel in planning the trip to Dallas.” Robert Bouck, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Secret Service’s Protective Research Section, “…testified to the committee that threat information was transmitted from one region of the country to another if there was specific evidence it was relevant to the receiving region.”

The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated the allegation “that a statistically improbable number of individuals with some direct or peripheral association with the Kennedy assassination died as a result of that assassination, thereby raising the specter of conspiracy”. The committee’s chief of research testified: “Our final conclusion on the issue is that the available evidence does not establish anything about the nature of these deaths which would indicate that the deaths were in some manner, either direct or peripheral, caused by the assassination of President Kennedy or by any aspect of the subsequent investigation.”

Author Gerald Posner points out that Marrs’ list was taken from the group of about 10,000 people connected even in the most tenuous way to the assassination, one of the multiple official investigations, or the independent research of conspiracy theorists. He notes that it would be surprising if a hundred people out of ten thousand did not die in “unnatural ways” and points out over half of the people on Marrs’ list did not in fact die mysteriously, but of natural causes, such as Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman, who died of heart failure at age 69 in 1984, long after the Kennedy assassination, but is on Marrs’ list as someone whose cause of death is “unknown”. Posner also points out that many prominent witnesses and conspiracy researchers continue to live long lives and have not made it onto the mysterious death list.

My comments:
Posner is wrong. Approximately 70% of the convenient deaths were unnatural (homicide, accident, suicide, unknown).

Seven top FBI officials died within a 6 month period just before their scheduled testimony at HSCA. Neither Posner, Bugliosi or the HSCA statistician mention that fact. Why not?

Where is Posner’s proof that Marrs’ 103 witnesses were based on a universe of 10,000? Even if there were 10,000, the probability of 50 homicides from 1964-78 is 1.3E-15 (1 in 750 billion). The probability of 100 homicides (more likely) is 5.4E-54 (less than 1 in a million trillion trillion trillion trillion).

Posner never calculated the probabilities. But he could have tried to contact the actuary engaged by the London Sunday Times who determined 100,000 trillion to one odds against 18 material witnesses dying within three years of the assassination. Unfortunately, Posner would have been out of luck; no one at the Times recalled the actuary’ name in response to the HSCA in 1977. If you believe that, there is a bridge in Brooklyn…

Neither the HSCA statistician, Posner or Bugliosi considered that the issue is not how many witnesses died.The relevant question is: how many died unnaturally among the finite group of witnesses who were called or sought to testify in four investigations?

Approximately 1100 witnesses were called to testify in four investigations from 1964-78. Sixty-seven (67) are included among the 126 in the JFK Calc spreadsheet database. Of the 67, at least 39 were unnatural deaths of which 28 were homicides. The probability of 39 unnatural deaths is E-27 or 1 in 200 trillion trillion.

Approximately 1400+ material witnesses related to the JFK Assassination are referenced in “Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination” by Michael Benson. In JFK Calc, there are 120 JFK-related suspicious deaths. The best estimate is that 99 were unnatural (83 homicides, 8 accidents, 4 suicides and 4 unknown). Officially, 78 were unnatural. But the HSCA noted just 21 deaths.

The probability of at least 30 unnatural deaths is ZERO based on average (unweighted) U.S. mortality rates. For the JFK-witness group, the probability is ZERO of at least 12 deaths (due to the lower average mortality rate). But there were at least 97 unnatural deaths. The probability is E-40 based on national unnatural mortality rates. The correct probability based on JFK-weighted rates is E-112.

Of the 552 witnesses who testified at the Warren Commission in 1964, at least 30 died suspiciously from 1964-78 (20 unnaturally). The probability is E-18. Of the 20 unnatural deaths, 17 were homicides. Only 7 unnatural deaths would normally be expected in the 15 year period.

The average homicide rate for 1964-78 was 0.000084. The probability that in 1964-78 there would be 81 homicides among 1400 material witnesses is E-102.

Even if there were 25,000 FBI interviews, how many were material witnesses? Probably no more than 1500. The probability of 81 homicides among 25,000 from 1964-78 is 1 in 6 trillion. Only 31 homicides would normally be expected over a 15 year period.

Convenient deaths spiked in 1964 (Warren Commission) and 1977 (House Select Committee).

This is my latest numerical and graphical analysis post:

This is a comprehensive collection of research essays on the assassination from Michael T. Griffith:

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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in JFK


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