Earl Rose

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 13 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4768
  1. Ned Stafford, freelance journalist, Hamburg

Pathologist prevented from performing autopsy on US President John F Kennedy

On 22 November 1963 Earl Rose was in his office at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas when the bad news came. Across the corridor in trauma room 1, doctors (see Obituary: Malcolm O Perry, BMJ 2010;340:c922, doi:10.1136/bmj.c922) had lost the short battle to save the life of US President John F Kennedy, who less than an hour before had suffered severe head wounds from gunfire.

Rose, Dallas County’s medical examiner, walked into the corridor, which was full of scurrying medical staff, presidential aides, and secret service agents. He had a legal duty to fulfil. Years later he wrote, “A murder had been committed and . . . an accurate and thorough autopsy was critical for . . . the credibility of the investigation.”1

Last rites

Jacqueline Kennedy, the president’s wife, remained in trauma room 1 with the body. A priest was summoned to give the last rites. Rose was met by the chief secret service agent, Roy Kellerman, and George Burkley, Kennedy’s personal physician. They told him that Mrs Kennedy would not leave Dallas without her husband’s body and there …

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