Paul Landis was a twenty-eight-year-old Secret Service agent in President Kennedy’s Dallas motorcade on November 22, 1963. Though he was a witness to the events that day, he was never interviewed by the Warren Commission, and has kept his recollections private until now, including details surrounding a key piece of evidence.” — copy on Amazon page for Landis’s “Final Witness” (Chicago Review Press, 10.10.23).

If you know anything about the JFK assassination and the Warren Commission Report, you know about the magic bullet theory. A Sept. 9th N.Y. Times article by Peter Baker summarizes a startling recollection from Landis — one that strongly challenges this long-questionable assertion. Here are the key paragraphs:

“What it [all] comes down to is a copper-jacketed 6.5-millimeter projectile.

“The Warren Commission decided that one of the bullets fired that day struck the president from behind, exited from the front of his throat and continued on to hit Texas governor John Connally, somehow managing to injure his back, chest, wrist and thigh. It seemed incredible that a single bullet could do all that, so skeptics called it the magic bullet theory.

“Investigators came to that conclusion partly because the bullet was found on a stretcher believed to have held Mr. Connally at Parkland Memorial Hospital, so they assumed it had exited his body during efforts to save his life. But Mr. Landis, who was never interviewed by the Warren Commission, said that is not what happened.

“In fact, he said, he was the one who found the bullet — and he found it not in the hospital near Mr. Connally but in the presidential limousine lodged in the back of the seat behind where Kennedy was sitting.

“When he spotted the bullet after the motorcade arrived at the hospital, he said he grabbed it to thwart souvenir hunters. Then, for reasons that still seem fuzzy even to him, he said he entered the hospital and placed it next to Kennedy on the president’s stretcher, assuming it could somehow help doctors figure out what happened. At some point, he now guesses, the stretchers must have been pushed together and the bullet was shaken from one to another.

“’There was nobody there to secure the scene, and that was a big, big bother to me,’ Mr. Landis said. ‘All the agents that were there were focused on the president.’ A crowd was gathering. ‘This was all going on so quickly. And I was just afraid that….it was a piece of evidence, that I realized right away. Very important. And I didn’t want it to disappear or get lost. So it was, ‘Paul, you’ve got to make a decision,’ and I grabbed it.’”

“Mr. Landis theorizes that the bullet struck Kennedy in the back but for some reason was undercharged and did not penetrate deeply, therefore popping back out before the president’s body was removed from the limousine.”

“Mr. Landis has been reluctant to speculate on the larger implications. He always believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman.

“But now? ‘At this point, I’m beginning to doubt myself,’ he said. ‘Now I begin to wonder.’ That is as far as he is willing to go.”

Here’s a corresponding Vanity Fair report