A modern forensic science look at JFK's murder

The assassination of U.S. president John Fitzgerald Kennedy is remembered today, 50 years after the deadly shooting, in part for the conspiracy theories surrounding it and the possibility of a second shooter in addition to Lee Harvey Oswald, who was charged with the murder.

CBC science columnist Torah Kachur looked into how modern ballistic science and technology would have helped solve the mystery of who shot JFK and whether they could be applied to the forensic evidence that still exists. 

Today, techniques such as multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) can help trace the path of the bullet to estimate the shooter's angle and distance from the victim, and to determine whether a wound was due to the exit or entry of the bullet. Other strategies such as using a "frangible ballistic head" to recreate crime scenes can also help find out "whodunnit."

But the JFK assassination didn't have these modern techniques and cannot benefit from them now with conclusive proof. Instead, Kachur found, scientists are left with lively and thorough debates in the literature about the metallurgy of the bullet casings, computer simulations of the path of the "magic bullet" and continual analysis of grainy video footage from that fateful day. 

The evidence doesn't point to Lee Harvey Oswald having a partner, Kachur discovered, nor does it conclusively prove he acted alone.  We may simply never know.

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