Jackie Kennedy during assassination


In the video of JFK’s assassination, I’m surprised by Jackie’s reaction. I would think that upon his head getting hit and the spattering of blood, she would recoil in terror, cover mouth with hands and scream, etc. Instead she wheels right around and crawls onto the back of the car to retrieve his scalp…it seems really odd that she even noticed where it went. And of course she opened herself up to being shot as well…I think I would have been hitting the deck, myself. Do first families receive some kind of Secret Service training on what to do in case of attack? Even so, it wouldn’t include scalp-retrieval instruction, would it (at least prior to 1963)? Anyone else find it strange?

I don’t think there’s a typical reaction to having your spouse shot in the head while sitting next to you.

I think I read somewhere where she described her thought process during those moments… It was obviously all driven by irrational shock. Can’t remember where I saw it, though…


I always thought she was trying to get the secret service guy to come quickly to help.

I always thought she was either trying to get the hell out of the car, or reach for the Secret Service agent.

I would totally believe, “holy shit part of my husband’s head is on the trunk, he probably needs that.” reach.

And yes, from my memories of what I mentioned above, she was thinking about trying to put Jack’s head back together.

Apparently she said, “They have killed my husband. I have got his brains in my hand.” Which props to her education. I don’t think I’d have been able to whip out the present perfect like that were I in a similar situation.

So you figure she was pretty well prepared for this eventuality and was just doing what she knew she had to do in terms of gathering her husband’s head pieces together?

For all the conspiracy theorizing that has gone on about this, it’s odd that Ms. K.'s behavior is overlooked (at least it is to me).

JK or JKO (but never JO as she was too classy to be labeled that) was a zombie. She said, “Brains, brains brains.”

The alternate explanation of why she did it was simply she was in on the plot so she turned away so it’d look better. That’s why she wasn’t afraid of being shot, she was in on it and paid Oswald to do it. She then paid Ruby to hush Oswald up.


I was raised in a different time from her. I don’t have any idea what she was thinking. I’ve had so many first aid classes that its been drilled into me that after the bleeding is controlled, find the missing part and ice it down. So, if I saw a loved one’s brains blown out, I might have tried to gather them up so the doctors could put them back. Stress/panic makes people react in strange ways at times.

Just before she reached back, you can see the Secret Service agent attempting to climb onto the back of the car. (I believe that prior to that, he was walking behind the car.) So it appears that she was trying to help him onto the car. I think you can see her grab his hand (at frame 388).

Is there any credible account re what exactly she said immediately after the fatal shot? Was it really “brains, brains, brains”?


Exactly. When we covered this in history at school I remember my classmates saying “Look, she’s trying to pick up his brains!” and I thought, no, she’s trying to give that police guy a hand up onto the back of the car.

The basic fallacy here is that she was looking for JFK’s scalp. That’s just plain nonsense on all levels.

Start with the physics: whether you believe the bullet came from the School Book Depository or the Grassy Knoll, JFK’s brain matter would not have spilled out behind him. The bullet would have pushed it out, so it would have been either on the floor of the car, or on her lap.

Considering that all the evidence also shows that JFK’s skull remained attached to the rest of him, this is triply wrong.

It’s also the last thing one thinks of when bullets are heading in your direction. It’s clear that she’s either trying to get to the secret service man (we see him climbing on the back) or trying to get out of the car to protect herself. And that assumes she was even thinking rationally about it at all – quite likely, she was just panicking and not thinking clearly.

She commented about realizing she had her husband’s brains in her hand. But that was on the way to the hospital, not when she was crawling onto the trunk in reaction to the shot.

I think this is where the idea comes from:

This is probably where the idea that she was looking for a piece of his head or skull came from. But Hill wasn’t sure, he was guessing. It does not sound like he remembers her trying to get him onto the limo and he does not say if she said anything about that. I included the bit about Hill losing his footing because it is also possible she was trying to get Hill (who was responsible for protecting her) to get on the car or tell him something.

I don’t know much about physics or ballistics, but I don’t think it all has to go straight in one direction. Wikipedia says his blood was all over the car, including the interior around them and the trunk behind him.

If she’s not thinking rationally, then it’s not impossible she was looking for a piece of his scalp or skull. It sounds ridiculous but it’s not impossible. She never explained what she was doing on the trunk and told the Warren Commission she couldn’t remember going on the back of the car at all. Both the Connallys testified she said “They have killed my husband. I have got his brains in my hand.” John Connally didn’t really indicate when she said that, but Nellie Connally’s testimony makes it sound like it was just after the kill shot.

It is a verifiable fact that quite a large piece of skull was blown out of the car. It’s known as the Harper fragment after the person who found it (in the grass forward and left from the car’s position at the time of the shooting).

I’m pretty sure that the white “streak” you can see heading off in the 1 o’clock direction in frames 313-4 of the Zapruder film is this fragment, spinning and catching the sun so the streak appears to alter in brightness regularly along its length. (I won’t link to the image as it’s rather graphic, but if you do a Google image search for “harper fragment 313” you should find it.)

But, as I said, that went forwards and left, and landed some distance from the car, so has no relevance to Jackie climbing backwards.

She wouldn’t necessarily have known that if she was looking for a piece of his skull. But I was saying that Hill was only guessing that’s what she was doing when she went out on the back of the car. He didn’t know why she did it and she didn’t remember doing it, so I guess ‘she was looking for his brains’ is the only theory ever really offered by anyone who was there even if it is not the most sensible explanation.