Who killed JFK?

Official JFK Inquiries and Investigations

Some people have accused the Warren Commission of performing shoddy work and covering up evidence. The official report is several hundred pages long and supported by 26 volumes of testimonial hearings. It's available at the National Archives Web site. The report details a thorough investigation of the assassination.

But conspiracy theories and distrust in the government were on the rise after Kennedy's assassination. Many pointed to the infamous Zapruder film, footage taken by Abraham Zapruder of the motorcade at the time of the assassination. From the footage, it looks as though Kennedy's body moves in a way that is inconsistent with being hit from behind. The United States government responded to concerns about the Warren Commission by forming the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). In 1976, the committee investigated the JFK assassination.

The HSCA's findings complicated matters. The investigation uncovered recordings that seemed to indicate four shots rather than three. This led the committee to conclude that there was a second shooter in the JFK assassination but that the second shooter missed. Later examinations of the acoustic evidence suggested that the HSCA was mistaken and that there were only three shots fired. The HSCA failed to find any connection between Oswald and a co-conspirator.

In 1975, another investigation touched on the events of Nov. 22, 1963. The investigative body was known as the Rockefeller Commission and its task was to examine claims of CIA misbehavior. Part of that investigation centered on the events surrounding JFK's assassination. This investigation invalidated the "three tramps" theory, which stated that the police detained three hobos who were really CIA agents. In truth, the three men were transients.

The U.S. government has released hundreds of thousands of records regarding the assassination. While conspiracy theorists still search for proof that Kennedy was killed as part of a conspiracy, no hard evidence has yet to surface. What has come to light is that agencies like the CIA and the FBI attempted to bury mistakes and questionable acts. But it still looks like the Warren Commission's report was accurate. Perhaps we just find it hard to believe that a lone gunman with no perceivable motive could kill one of the most powerful people in the world.

Learn more about the assassination and related topics by following the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • Appleton, Sheldon. "The Mystery of the Kennedy Assassination: What the American Public Believes." The Public Perspective. Oct./Nov. 1998. pp. 13-17.
  • Bland, Eric. "Tech Puts JFK Conspiracy Theories to Rest." Discovery Channel. Nov. 13, 2008. (April 14, 2009)http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/11/13/jfk-forensics-tech.html
  • Delano, Anthony. "Kennedy Assassination: 40th Anniversary." BBC History Magazine. November 2003, pp. 14-20.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. "Kennedy, John F." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 2009. (April 16, 2009) http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-3869
  • Gest, Ted and Shapiro, Joseph P. "JFK: The Untold Story of the Warren Commission." U.S. News & World Report. Aug. 17, 1992. p. 28.
  • Locke, John. "The Unofficial JFK Assassination FAQ #19." 1997 (April 13, 2009)http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/faq.txt
  • McAdams, John. "The Kennedy Assassination." 1995-2008. (April 13, 2009)http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/home.htm
  • McReynolds, R. Michael. "Records on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy." National Archives and Records Administration. Winter 1992. pp. 384-388.
  • Morley, Jefferson. "Conspiracy Theories; Decades after that trip to Dallas, some writers still have grave doubts about the Kennedy assassination." The Washington Post. Nov. 27, 2005. p. T 04.
  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). "National Archives Opens Additional JFK Assassination Materials." Dec. 20, 2004.
  • Patterson, Karen. "Experts Explore Why We Cant' Stop Obsessing over JFK." The Dallas Morning News. Nov. 17, 2003.
  • Ross Jr., Bobby and Penny Cockerell. "Assassination Still Stirs Memories, Debate 40 Years Later." Associated Press. Nov. 15, 2003.
  • Stern, Sheldon M. "A Prosecutor Takes On the JFK Assassination." Skeptic. Vol. 14, Issue 4, p. 64.
  • Thomas, Evan. "Who Shot JFK?" Newsweek. Sept. 6, 1993. pp. 14-17.
  • Warren Commission. "Warren Commission Report." The National Archives. Sept. 24, 1964 (April 13, 2009) http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/intro.html