Renowned Pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, Who Contended Multiple Gunmen in JFK Assassination, Passes Away at 93

Dr. Cyril Wecht, a pathologist and attorney known for his sharp wit and controversial views on famous deaths, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, passed away on Monday at the age of 93.

The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts has announced the passing of Wecht. The cause and place of death have not been disclosed, but it was mentioned that he passed away peacefully.

Wecht’s journey to fame started in 1964, shortly after he left the military and returned to civilian life following a brief period at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time, Wecht held positions as an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County and a pathologist at a Pittsburgh hospital.

A group of forensic scientists reached out with a request: to reexamine the Warren Commission’s report on the assassination of Kennedy, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Hecht, known for his meticulous approach, took on the task. This marked the start of his lifelong dedication to proving his theory that more than one shooter was involved in the assassination.

Upon reviewing the autopsy documents, uncovering the fact that the president’s brain had disappeared, and watching an amateur video of the assassination, Wecht came to the conclusion that the commission’s claim of a single bullet being responsible for the death of Kennedy and the injury of Texas Gov. John Connally was “utter nonsense.”

Wecht’s theory, which he presented during his lecture circuit, challenged the possibility of a single bullet causing the extensive damage witnessed in Dallas on that fateful day in November. This theory caught the attention of director Oliver Stone, who sought Wecht’s consultation for his movie “JFK.” As a result, Wecht’s demonstration was incorporated into the film, featuring the iconic courtroom scene depicting the trajectory of the infamous “magic bullet.”

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According to Attorney F. Lee Bailey, Wecht was the driving force behind challenging the Warren report. Wecht gained recognition for his verbal exchanges with Sen. Arlen Specter, a member of the commission. In his book “Cause of Death,” Wecht boldly accused Specter of supporting a nonsensical, pseudo-scientific theory with regards to the single-bullet theory.

Despite their differences, Wecht and Specter managed to build an unexpected friendship. Throughout a challenging five-year legal battle that drained Wecht of a significant portion of his life’s savings and concluded in 2009, Specter stood up for the pathologist’s defense.

Wecht came out on top when a combination of legal tactics and court rulings led prosecutors to dismiss all allegations of fraud and theft against him. The case centered around claims that he had utilized his position as the Allegheny County medical examiner to benefit his lucrative private practice, which was worth millions of dollars.

Wecht’s outspokenness about the Kennedy assassination and the attention it garnered, eventually led to him becoming a trusted pathologist in numerous other high-profile cases. These cases included figures such as Elvis Presley and JonBenet Ramsey, the young beauty queen whose murder remains unsolved.

At the trial of school head Jean Harris, who was accused of murdering “Scarsdale Diet” Dr. Herman Tarnower, Wecht testified on behalf of the defense, but his testimony did not result in a successful outcome. In another notable case, Wecht’s testimony at the trial of Claus von Bulow may have played a role in acquitting Von Bulow of charges that he attempted to kill his wife, Sunny, who was his heir.

After analyzing the autopsy report of Elvis, Wecht came to the conclusion and discussed his findings on national television that the death of the King of Rock was most likely caused by an overdose, rather than heart disease. As a result of his findings, Tennessee authorities decided to reexamine the case in 1994. However, ultimately, the official cause of death remained unchanged.

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In the months leading up to the O.J. Simpson homicide trial in 1994, Wecht appeared regularly as a guest on talk shows like the “Today” show and “Good Morning America,” offering his insights on the importance of blood samples and other pieces of evidence.

In 2009, Wecht once again appeared on the airwaves to discuss the tragic death of Michael Jackson. He delved into the dangerous combination of drugs and sedatives that ultimately claimed the life of the iconic King of Pop.

Despite spending over five decades immersed in the realm of death, Wecht maintained a generally positive outlook. His infectious laughter resonated from deep within, often accompanied by his own brand of humor, which could be both sharp and self-deprecating.

In a series of interviews conducted in 2009, The Associated Press asked Wecht about his thoughts on mortality. Rather than shying away from the topic, Wecht openly discussed his concerns. He expressed his greatest fear of experiencing pain or relying on others, including his loved ones, for assistance.

“I want to experience life right until the end,” expressed Wecht. “It’s a thought-provoking question, isn’t it? What exactly defines life?”

He emphasized the importance of acknowledging your loved ones before you pass away, as once you’re gone, they won’t be by your side anymore.

“I will be separated from my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and someday, my great-grandchildren. That’s the profound impact that death holds for me,” expressed Wecht.

“I wish it could go on indefinitely,” he said with a wistful tone.

In his six books, Wecht, being a realist, took the opportunity to thoroughly discuss numerous cases. One of these books, “Cause of Death,” co-authored by Wecht, his son Benjamin, and Mark Curriden, formerly a writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Dallas Morning News, received high praise from attorney Alan Dershowitz, who referred to Wecht as the “Sherlock Holmes of forensic sciences.”

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Wecht, the son of a grocer, attended the University of Pittsburgh for his undergraduate studies and later obtained both medical and law degrees from the same institution. He held the position of Allegheny County’s coroner twice, with his second term ending in 2006. However, he resigned from his position following his indictment on charges of fraud and theft.

During his first term, which spanned from 1970 to 1980, he faced numerous challenges. Similar to his later controversies, he was accused of utilizing county morgue facilities for his personal forensic business while serving as the coroner. After a lengthy legal battle, he ultimately paid $200,000 in restitution. Additionally, he fulfilled a four-year tenure as an Allegheny County commissioner.

In 1982, an attempt to secure a seat in the U.S. Senate against John Heinz III did not yield the desired outcome.

He is survived by his wife, Sigrid, and their four children: David, who is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice; Daniel, a clinical professor in the Neurosurgery Department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Benjamin, who works as a freelance writer and teacher; and Ingrid, a doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. They also have 11 grandchildren.

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