Cyril Wecht shreds ‘nonsense’ JFK single-bullet theory for Fox Chapel Area students
Cyril Wecht at Fox Chapel Area High School
Renowned forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht enthralled a teenage audience at Fox Chapel Area High School with stories of flubbed autopsies and whizzing bullets during a Jan. 11 presentation on the assassination of President John Kennedy.
He painted a gruesome portrayal of the final moments of Kennedy’s life for students, most of whom said they were only vaguely familiar with the killing through discussion in history class.
Wecht, a former Allegheny County coroner, author and attorney, spared no details during his portrayal of Kennedy’s fateful ride through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
“The single-bullet theory,” Wecht started, “You’ve got to be asking yourself by now, ‘What kind of nonsense is this?’ and ‘How did anybody buy it?’”
Wecht has famously consulted on several high-profile cases, including the deaths of JonBenét Ramsey and Robert Kennedy. He is possibly best known for rebutting the Warren Commission report on the Nov. 22, 1963, shooting of JFK.
“To have this resource in history and forensic science, it’s great for our students,” said teacher Eric Norberg.
Wecht spoke with students in Norberg’s Advanced Placement U.S. History class, transporting them to another time in history.
Kennedy flew into Love Field in Dallas, Wecht said, despite being advised not to go.
“The mood was ugly, and there were thousands of leaflets sent out attacking him,” he said. “But it was a key state for presidential candidates, and he recognized what he had to do to advance his politics.”
Aaron Santilli, 16, found the account absorbing.
“To get an inside perspective is great,” he said. “A lot of what you hear is speculation, so to get an expert take from someone who was alive during it all, it’s interesting.”
Wecht told the students at rapid speed the events of the shooting, highlighting what he called an absurd single-bullet theory, which has Lee Harvey Oswald’s shot zig-zagging from Kennedy to then-Texas Gov. John Connally and creating seven wounds. He talked of a bungled autopsy, novice pathologists and conspiracies.
“It was a coup d’etat by the people who couldn’t sit back and wait for 13 years of JFK and Robert Kennedy politics to pass,” Wecht said.
Just before Kennedy was shot by Oswald from a sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository along Elm Street, Wecht said, Connally’s wife uttered the last words ever spoken to the president: “You can’t say that the people of Dallas don’t love you.”
Senior Zachary Lichtenstein, 17, said the presentation cemented his belief there were multiple gunmen that day.
“I had considered multiple theories before, but this settled it for me who was responsible,” he said.
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, email@example.com or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .