Testimony of Wallace Milam

Dallas, Texas -- November 18, 1994 Hearing
MR. MARWELL: The next witness will be Mr. Wallace Milam.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Let me just add, some members of the audience have had trouble hearing some of the witnesses. I would ask the witnesses to speak directly into the microphone, and if others wish to have conversations during our hearing perhaps they could go out into the hallway.

Thank you.

Go ahead, Mr. Milam.

MR. MILAM: Thank you, Mr. Tunheim and members of the Review Board. I appreciate the opportunity to appear here. My name is Wallace Milam. I am an American History teacher in Dyersburg, Tennessee. I have been a Kennedy assassination researcher for the past 25 years, particularly interested in the medical evidence.

I want to call your attention to some documents in the medical area which may have fallen or are in danger of falling through the cracks, you might say. I think none of these are particularly esoteric, and they should fall within the ability of this committee to recover.

First is a referred House Assassinations Committee document -- yes, let me add also that we became aware of the inconsistencies or absences of the complete record here with the recent releases from the National Archives. A six-page letter from Dr. Pierre Finck to House Select Committee counsel Andy Purdy. This six-page document dated the 26th of February 1978 shows that this document was withheld by authority of the CIA. This document, according to its indexing, contains references to such topics as William Harvey, to organized crime, to anti-Castro activities and to Jack Ruby.

As a person interested in the medical evidence I was particularly interested and struck by the fact that this was a reference made by one of Kennedy's pathologists, and I wondered what it was that Dr. Finck had to say in a letter to Committee counsel before he came to Washington to testify about such nonmedical matters, and these pages have been withheld, and I would request that they not be withheld. I would request that they not be withheld, that they be removed, their status as referred should certainly be removed.

I had occasion to meet Andy Purdy last month in Washington, and I called his attention to this. His statement was that he was not aware that these were referred, but he was not able to tell us what the content was at that time.

The second item also involves Dr. Finck. Incidently, I brought, I am afraid, a single copy of each of these which I will give the Committee including their background. There is an incomplete House Select Committee on Assassinations document relating to Dr. Finck's second appearance before the medical panel. On March 11, 1978, Dr. Finck testified along with Dr. James Ebersole, gave his testimony to what has been called the House Assassinations Committee's pathology panel. It was quite a stormy session. We have a transcript of that.

Then in a remarkable occurrence, Dr. Finck asked to appear again the next day, even though it was a Sunday, and in his reinterview, Dr. Finck was again at odds with panel members about the location of a key wound.

On page 12 of this second appearance in mid-sentence there is a large question mark and the remainder of the transcript is missing. There is a note on the coversheet which simply states that "ends abruptly, final page missing" and notes the box in the archives from which this document was apparently taken.

We know that this was transcribed because we have a verbatim transcript of these early pages. Now there is some evidence that this hearing, this requested hearing by Dr. Finck went on for nearly two hours, and I believe that we have a total of 12 pages. There must have been a great deal more. Certainly when this was transcribed, those who transcribed it were aware of the fact that there was an inconsistency here, that it ended abruptly. I think this should certainly be looked into.

The third item that I would call your attention to is another document regarding a taped interview with Mr. Thomas Robinson of Gawler's Funeral Home. Mr. Robinson particularly did the reconstructive work on the head of President Kennedy after the autopsy was completed. This also was taped. We have a transcript. There has been, as I am sure some of you are aware of, many people in this room are aware of, there has been a great deal of controversy about the method and the manner by which President Kennedy's body moved after he was shot.

At one point in the transcript, Mr. Purdy asked Mr. Robinson if there is anything he would like to add to the record, or actually his quote was that he had heard or read some things which struck you as incorrect, what would those things be?

The record taken from the tape is as follows: The time the people moved (autopsy) the body was taken -- deleted deleted -- the body never came, lots of little things like that.

The next question by Mr. Purdy says essentially, thank you and we will move on to another area.

Now, first of all, I don't know how people speak in parentheses. The word "autopsy" is in parentheses, obviously inserted by someone else. That tape should exist also, and obviously the tape doesn't end there, there is more.

We made a request during an effort this summer to acquire the tapes, which we were promised would be available. We have not been able to acquire that tape.

Another item also involves a tape, and in this case it involves Mr. Samuel Bird. Mr. Bird was the head of the casket team which managed and was in charge of carrying the casket and ceremonial details during that weekend. Mr. Bird is known to have recorded a tape soon after. We have that not only from the House Assassinations Committee verified that fact, but were also told by a Mr. Richard Lipsey who told the House Assassinations Committee that he was aware of Samuel Bird's taped recording.

An effort was made in 1978, and I will submit the documentation, Mr. Bird was contacted in Wichita, Kansas, and a notation was made from the outside contact report, "Bird said that he would review the tape over the weekend and then I could call him on Tuesday, February 21, 1978, and see what the tape contained." There is evidence that the tape was acquired.

It is a contemporaneous document. Bird recorded this within a week of having performed these activities as part of the weekend. I would urge the committee to acquire that tape.

Finally, something which I did not note. I have noted in writing to Mr. Tunheim and, I believe, members of the committee before, we in the research community were somewhat surprised a few years ago, just a short time ago, in the publication of historian Michael Beschloss's book, The Crises Years, in that he references the fact that he interviewed Richard Helms of the CIA, and Helms told him that President Johnson was not satisfied with the Warren Report or wanted further investigation done, and that late in 1964 he asked the CIA to conduct its in-house investigation. That among the things which were done was the acquisition of a copy of the Zapruder film and the autopsy materials, which were then analyzed.

Now there is some evidence that the CIA did acquire a copy of the Zapruder film. Researchers are aware of the fact that the FBI wrote to the Warren Commission saying that CIA had asked to acquire a copy of the film "for training purposes," and it occurred to many of us that this may have been the ruse by which the CIA obtained a copy to conduct its in-house investigation.

On another aspect of that, if, indeed, the CIA acquired the autopsy materials in late 1964, it would mean that the CIA had access to the autopsy materials fully two years before any other government agency examined them officially, before the official study was made by the autopsy -- those who participated in the autopsy, and the autopsy pathologist, and it should also mean that there should be a mountain of generated materials relating to this investigation somewhere.

Mr. Helms can probably speak to this. Mr. Beschloss is a respected historian. I believe that this is something the committee should look into. As I said, none of these are, I think, particularly esoteric requests, and I think they are needed particularly in the area that I am interested in, in the area of the medical records.

I thank the Board for its attention.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Milam.

Any questions?


Mr. Milam, have you made an effort to recover these documents that you referred to through the Freedom of Information Act?

MR. MILAM: Yes. We have had our -- we have a researcher in Washington that we rely upon, Ms. Kuhns-Walko has assured me that she has tried on several occasions especially to locate the tape recordings.

MR. JOYCE: Have those requests been responded to, or what is their status now?

MR. MILAM: The tape recordings, yes. The tape recordings have not been found as of this summer.

DR. HALL: What is the evidence that you cite under Number 4, you say there is further evidence that the House Select Committee on Assassinations did obtain the tape, what is the nature of the evidence that establishes that connection?

MR. MILAM: Ms. Kuhns-Walko was told, as I recall, that the tape did exist and that it had come to Washington, but that they had not found it at this point. In fact, my recollection is that she was also told that they thought they would, I think those are her quotes.

DR. HALL: And you, of course, would be willing to share that information with Mr. Marwell or the Executive Director for the purposes of being able to pinpoint.

MR. MILAM: Absolutely.

DR. HALL: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Any further questions?

[No response.]

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Milam. We appreciate your assistance.

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