DR. CYRIL H. WECHT 

Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D. (1931-2024): Acclaimed Pathologist, Professor, Author, Civic Leader and Devoted Family Man

“There was, and will only be, one Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.”
President Ken Gormley, J.D., Duquesne University.

No one who came before him or who will come after him can be compared with Dr. Wecht. He stands alone in his accomplishments, whether they be connected to his skill as a forensic pathologist or as a truth-teller about the John F. Kennedy assassination.

That’s the view of virtually all those who knew the man, including the Board of CAPA, an organization he founded and chaired. He advanced to the post of Chairman Emeritus earlier this year and continued to provide active participation at all our board meetings this year until the most recent one.

We’ll describe below our experiences at CAPA working with this brave, honorable and civic-minded leader exploring such sensitive matters as current research on the 1960s deaths of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

First, however, it’s both necessary and appropriate to describe how the world, his nation and his other varied communities benefited from his rare expertise and dedication.

Helping illustrate his scope and impact is, for example, the obituary published by the Los Angeles Times on May 13 under the headline: “Dr. Cyril Wecht, celebrity pathologist who argued more than 1 shooter killed JFK, dies at 93.” (https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2024-05-13/dr-cyr…)

He became world famous as an expert broadcast commentator, author, and courtroom expert analyzing the true cause of deaths for such celebrities as JFK, RFK, MLK, Michael Jackson, JonBenet Ramsey, Brian Jones and many, many others.

But the essence of the man is reflected also in his service for 20 years as the elected part-time coroner of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, the locale of Pittsburgh. His was a position of trust whereby he served as the indispensable independent expert providing judgment and sometimes accountability regarding the deaths of non-celebrities — including on occasion those who may have met their demise in ways not apparent to police or prosecutors — or even perhaps at the hands of rogue law enforcers and then covered up.

His renown emanated also from his close collaborations and enduring friendships with other leading coroners and medical examiners, including such iconic figures as Dr. Henry Lee of New Haven, Dr. Michael Baden of New York City and Dr. Thomas Noguchi of Los Angeles, plus his prodigious output as an author and teacher. He authored or co-authored 45 professional books for doctors and lawyers, the five-volume set “Forensic Sciences,” plus other books for general readers, plus some 600 expert articles in his field — or we should say “fields” because his wide-ranging expertise covered several.

Of particular pride was his long association with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he taught forensic pathology to medical students for many years and founded The Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, which provides a wide range of continuing learning opportunities on cutting-edge issues vital to medical, law enforcement and other legal professionals. The programs, organized in significant part by Program Director Benjamin Wecht, his son, have long provided both in person and by remote video expert analysis of cause-of-death mysteries, sometimes using for teaching case history medical evidence unlikely to be available for other purposes.

Some of these highlights are available in two recent books that reflect his prodigious energies even late in life, when he performed 500 autopsies a year (double the average number for coroners) until just three years ago. One book is “The JFK Assassination Dissected: An Analysis by Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht,” co-authored by Dawna Kaufmann and with a forward by Oliver Stone (Exposit/McFarland, 2022). The other book is his memoir, “The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: America’s Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist,” coauthored with Jeff M. Sewald, (Exposit/McFarland, 2020).

He was well-known for his ability to fight effectively on some of the nation’s hottest and most-longstanding controversies. This includes the medical evidence regarding the JFK assassination, while also maintaining cordial relationships – up to a point – even with some of his major forensic adversaries. One was the late U.S. Senator Arlen Spector, who as a Warren Commission staff member in 1964 successfully advocated to the Commission that it endorse the so-called “single-bullet theory” that pointed, erroneously in Dr. Wecht’s analysis, to the concept that one bullet supposedly fired by Lee Harvey Oswald caused JFK’s death plus multiple other wounds in him and Texas Governor John Connally, a fellow presidential limo passenger, during the fateful motorcade through Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Dr. Wecht, onetime Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat then occupied by Spector, served as a pallbearer at Spector’s funeral at the request of the deceased.

Those of us at CAPA came to know him from his pioneering work through the decades to expose, based on scientific evidence, the shortcomings of the Warren Report and conventional wisdom in most of mainstream media that parroted the Warren Report’s misleading narrative, much the same as reporting on other cases, including the deaths of RFK and MLK.

Wecht has been a Pioneer in the practice of forensic pathology. His career is best described by Alan Dershowitz, noted criminal trial lawyer, who made this observation, “When Cyril Wecht started practicing, his profession was not highly regarded. …Forensic science is “in” today; however, in those days, when he was first practicing, Cyril was the lone ranger and he created the profession, professionalized it, and made it what it is today, which is central to the administration of justice.” Peter Vaira is a former U.S. attorney and acts as special hearing master for Pennsylvania courts and clients. He has written an article about Dr. Wecht which states that “Dr. Wecht has shaped the law such that the use of forensic pathology is now de rigueur in death cases.”

Dr. Wecht closely supervised the annual CAPA research conferences held in Dallas each year on the anniversary of the JFK death each November. Also, he generously assisted many authors, filmmakers, academics and other researchers, often with endorsements of books that he admired.

For such reasons, everyone in relevant research communities, especially those of us in CAPA or affiliated with Duquesne, were thrilled that he was able to experience the output of research, love and honor bestowed on his field and personal legacy via the conference last November, “The JFK Assassination At 60: New Frontiers in Scientific, Medical, Legal and Historical Research.”

Duquesne University hosted the conference, which attracted one of the largest and most expert audiences ever in JFK assassination research. Among highlights were the dedication by the university’s president and other eminences of the Cyril H. Wecht Collection in the University’s library, plus speakers who included the bold JFK researcher, author and acting star Alec Baldwin, former Secret Service Special Agent Paul Landis (making his first public remarks following revelations in his memoir, “The Final Witness”) and many other experts.

CAPA organized for Dr. Wecht a special lifetime achievement award and banquet, capturing highlights of his illustrious career in a way meaningful to him and his beloved family, including his family members. The accomplishments and civic service of his wife, Sigrid, and children deserve mention as part of a key part of the life and legacy of this exceptional man:

⦁ Sigrid Wecht, a family law attorney and longtime office manager of Cyril H. Wecht and Pathology Associates

Children, in birth order:
⦁ David N. Wecht, Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice
⦁ Daniel A. Wecht, clinical professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
⦁ Benjamin E. Wecht, program director of Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University
⦁ Ingrid A. Wecht, obstetrician-gynecologist and a senior staff member at West Penn Hospital.

Dr. Wecht once stated that, if given the opportunity to live his life again by the Supreme Being, he would not change anything and would do exactly what he has done despite the hardships and consequences involved.

“It was a very full life,” he concluded in an extended interview (https://www.wpxi.com/video/it-was-very-full-life-cyril-wecht…) with WPXI-TV, the NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh on Channel 11.

So let us pick up the torch and keep running to honor him, what he fought for, what he endured, and what he stood for.

As he said at the CAPA dinner honoring him last November, “Never give up, keep going, and one day we shall prevail!”

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Dr. Cyril H. Wecht in his laboratory.

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Dr. Wecht, at center wearing a hat, surrounded by family and friends at the CAPA banquet in his honor where he received CAPA’s lifetime achievement award during the “The JFK Assassination at 60” conference organized by the Duquesne University School of Science and Engineering in Pittsburgh from Nov. 15-17, 2023.

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Among the well-wishers for Dr. Wecht after the banquet were filmmaker Irving Nestor of Auriela LLC and his wife Stephanie. The filmmaker had presented the results of his Matterport 3D scan of the JFK assassination locale of Dealey Plaza in Dallas, a CAPA-funded project for historical purposes.

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Glenda Devaney

Author’s Bio: CAPA Chair Glenda de Vaney, left, based in California, was longtime CAPA Program Chair and a Board director when Dr. Wecht recommended her in 2022 to be his eventual successor as CAPA Chair. She was elected to the post in early 2024 by unanimous vote and leads CAPA’s programming for its next annual conference, to be held in Dallas this coming November.

doj Citizens Against Political AssassinationsIn honor of Black History Month 2024, the Office of the Pardon Attorney would like to shine a light on pardon recipient Abraham W. Bolden, Sr. Mr. Bolden, the first African American Secret Service Agent assigned to a presidential detail, was granted a full and unconditional pardon by President Biden on April 26, 2022.

After graduating cum laude with a BA in Music Composition from Lincoln University, Abraham Bolden became the first African American Detective employed by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. He next served as a State Highway Patrolman in the State of Illinois. Continuing to advance in the field of police work, Mr. Bolden became a member of the United States Secret Service in October 1960.

Read the full article on the DOJ Website here, https://www.justice.gov/pardon/black-history-month-2024

Scroll below to watch Andrew Kreig’s recent interview with Abraham Bolden on District Insiders.

Cyril Wecht: Pioneer Forensic Pathologist Who Has Shaped the Law

Written by Peter Vaira

In the opinion of many attorneys, Cyril Wecht is one of the major reasons that forensic pathology is now so important in the fact-finding process of the law.

This column is about Cyril Wecht, a giant in the legal and medical professions: doctor, lawyer, forensic pathologist, former coroner of Allegheny County, expert witness in mysterious death cases and concert violinist. He is 90 years old and is still actively practicing in Pittsburgh as a forensic pathologist. His son, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht, said, “My Dad is still working at his profession. … he continues to do many autopsies every week, often multiple autopsies in a single day.” continued here…

Former JFK Secret Service Agent Describes Shocking Lapses, Current Implications

Written by Wayne Madsen and Andrew Kreig

john_f_kenned_side_profile Citizens Against Political Assassinationsabraham-bolden-sr.-new-2016 Citizens Against Political AssassinationsBolden, now 88 and living in Chicago (and shown at right in a file photo), described in rare detail several historically important interactions with JFK, Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) and such little-known intrigues as a planned 1963 assassination to target JFK in Chicago three weeks before a similar shooting killed the president in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Bolden, loyal to JFK during a period when the president’s background and policies enraged some Americans, sought to alert his chain of command to security threats he had witnessed, including a volcanic 1961 temper tantrum by LBJ two years before JFK’s death. Authorities instead framed Bolden with perjured testimony on corruption charges in 1964 and promptly imprisoned him with a six-year sentence.

joe-biden-7-21-2022 Citizens Against Political AssassinationsIn 2022, President Joe Biden (shown in a file photo) pardoned Bolden on April 26 as one of just three to receive pardons in Biden’s first presidential clemency order.

lee-harvey-oswald_cuba-passport_application Citizens Against Political AssassinationsThe District Insiders hosts, both investigative reporters long based in Washington, DC, recognized during the show Bolden’s remarkable courage and patriotism along with Biden’s boldness in granting a pardon. Most officials and mainstream media since 1963 have ignored, downplayed or otherwise suppressed any suggestion conflicting with the FBI’s steadfast contention, first expressed soon after JFK’s murder in 1963, that former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, shown at left, killed JFK, acting alone. Read the complete article on Justice Integrity Project

Follow District Insiders:
Spotify: https://sptfy.com/N8eC
Apple Podcasts:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/district-insiders/id1679198072
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@districtinsiders-sg9xuF

CAPA is pleased to share with our base the news of the pardon of former Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden under President John F. Kennedy. See story below. CAPA is also pleased to share the video “A Rush to Judgment” produced by Mark Lane and Stephen Jaffe which includes the most extended and detailed interview given by Bolden. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/arushtojudgement.

You must create a free account on Vimeo (or login to your existing account) to view the On-Demand Video, if you have a coupon, click Buy Now at top right corner, then add the Coupon code.

We offer this video free to our CAPA members and for a small fee of $10 to non-CAPA members. The fee can also be counted towards the membership fee of $50/year which will entitle you to a discount on the upcoming 2022 conference and other perks, including upcoming podcasts by knowledgeable experts.

To join CAPA, click here. Feel free to share this post with others. Members will receive their coupon code in a coming email.

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Biden pardons Chicagoan Abraham Bolden, first Black Secret Service agent on White House detail

Bolden “has steadfastly maintained his innocence, arguing that he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service,” the White House said.

By Lynn Sweet
Apr 26, 2022, 6:30am PDT

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday pardoned Abraham Bolden, the Chicago man who was the first Black Secret Service agent to serve on a White House detail, who maintained charges against him that led to prison time were trumped up.

Bolden “has steadfastly maintained his innocence, arguing that he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service,” the White House said in announcing Biden’s clemency actions. [read more here…]


Dr. Cyril Wecht

2022-02-11_14-11-37 Citizens Against Political AssassinationsBy Heather Robinson, the New York Post February 5th, 2022
Dr. Cyril Wecht distrusts the US government. And he’s proud of it.

Dr. Cyril Wecht was the first non-governmental forensic pathologist to gain access to the National Archives to examine the assassination materials on JFK in 1972. He discovered that Kennedy’s brain was missing as well as many shocking lapses in the official probe into his death.

The forensic pathologist – who declared in 1978 that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy – is now 90 and still sticking to his story.

Wecht’s latest book, “The JFK Assassination Dissected” (Exposit Books) summarizes his six decades of research into the subject, and pokes holes in the conclusion made by the 7-man Warren Commission that Oswald, without any help, shot and killed Kennedy when his motorcade drove past the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

continue reading here…


Updates

Citizens Against Political Assassinations

James Wagenvoord

 In Memoriam

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James Wagenvoord was born in Lansing, Michigan, graduated from Duke University and became a writer authoring 43 books, editor, publisher and photographer. He was employed in the editorial department of Time-Life in New York. He eventually became the editorial business manager and assistant to Life Magazine’s Executive Editor. On Friday, November 22, 1963, he was at his desk when the wire services announced the president had been shot in Dallas and the phones started ringing, never to stop. Wagenvoord was instantly at the center of the story of the century. He was told about the Zapruder film which had been screened for Life’s top correspondent in Dallas, Richard Stolley, as well as other major news organizations.  Life’s executive editor, C.D. Jackson, was directing the Zapruder negotiations from New York.  Jackson was a close friend of Henry Luce, the owner of the magazine. According to top journalist Carl Bernstein, Jackson was “Henry Luce’s personal emissary to the CIA.” 

By Saturday night, November 23, 1963, after a heated competition, the print rights to Zapruder’s film had been sold, exclusively, for $50,000 to Life Magazine by Zapruder. Wagenvoord was in the middle of the deal, rarely leaving his phone in case a call came in from Stolley. When appearing before the Warren Commission, Zapruder claimed he received $25,000 from LIFE for the film and then gave this money to the Firemen’s and Policemen’s Benevolent Fund for Officer Tippit’s family. However, when the contract was eventually published it showed that Zapruder received $150,000 for the film after an additional round of negotiations that included all rights.

Wagenvoord realized that a mistake had been made. As he told the audience in his first CAPA speech in 2019, “I asked the editors about the questions raised when the stills were first printed and then duped for distribution to the European and British papers/magazines. The only response I got was an icy stare from Dick Pollard, Life’s Director of Photography. So, being an ambitious somewhat new employee, I had them distributed.”

 On November 29th, Life Magazine published a series of 31 photographs documenting the entire shooting sequence from the Zapruder film. As Wagenvoord said, the first contract only included the print rights. The second one included all rights including motion picture rights.

Wagenvoord continued working on the Kennedy assassination editorial beat in the days and weeks that followed. He paid close attention to criticism which raised concerns about whether or not some of the photos they published had been tampered with. He supported the kind of investigative journalism that he thought they stood for but for his courage he was not rewarded. He was fired. He filled a box with his stuff including some test shots of the Kennedy assassination photos and left. Shortly thereafter his apartment was burglarized. Only that box was missing.

Wagenvoord, who died on July 26, 2022, is survived by his wife, Linda Raglan Cunningham and their beloved daughter, Julia.

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