The president’s brain is missing and other mysteriously mislaid body parts
Who stole JFK’s brain? It has been a mystery since 1966 when, three years after the president’s assassination, it was discovered that his brain, which had been removed during the autopsy and stored in the National Archives, had gone missing. Conspiracy theorists have long suggested the missing organ would have proved Kennedy was not shot from the back by Lee Harvey Oswald, but from the front.
The latest theory puts forward a less juicy cover-up – James Swanson, author of a new book on the assassination of Kennedy, suggests the president’s brain was taken by his younger brother Robert, “perhaps to conceal evidence of the true extent of President Kennedy’s illnesses, or perhaps to conceal evidence of the number of medications that President Kennedy was taking”.
Kennedy is just one of a number of famous people whose body parts were taken, either for good or dubious purposes. Brains have long held a fascination, particularly for people wanting to study the secrets of the intelligent, talented and powerful. After Albert Einstein’s death in 1955, his brain was removed and studied by pathologist Thomas Harvey, much of it sliced and mounted on hundreds of slides, many of which have been lost. The Moscow Brain Institute collected and studied the brains of many prominent Russian scientists and thinkers, most famously that of Lenin.
Joseph Haydn’s head was stolen from his grave by two men, motivated by their interest in phrenology, the belief that insights could be had from feeling the shape and size of the head, the skull eventually finding its way to the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna, more than 80 years after his death. It was reunited with the rest of his remains in 1954. When Beethoven died several years after Haydn, and with the interest in phrenology still booming, there were similar concerns, with one gravedigger claiming he had been offered a thousand florins to “deposit the head of Beethoven in a certain place”. However, the composer didn’t escape unscathed – during his autopsy, one doctor took his ear bones, locks of hair were clipped, and when his body was exhumed later in the 1800s, fragments of his skull were taken.
What is reputed to be Mozart’s skull – tests have been inconclusive – is held at the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg; it is his skeleton that is missing, since he was buried in a grave that was dug up and reused some years after his death in 1791. Thomas Paine’s remains are also lost. In 1819, 10 years after the pamphleteer’s death in New York, the journalist William Cobbett brought his bones back to England, with the idea that he would be interred in an impressive tomb, though this never happened; people all over the world have claimed to own a part of Paine. Napoleon’s body parts are also thought to be scattered – intestines allegedly belonging to him were held in London and destroyed during a bombing raid during the blitz, but his penis is believed to be owned by the daughter of John Lattimer, a New Jersey urologist (he was also the doctor brought in by the Kennedy family to review JFK’s autopsy evidence) who bought it at an auction in 1977.
In some cases, remains turn up years later. In 2009, two of Galileo’s fingers and a tooth were rediscovered. Removed by admirers, rather like holy relics, 95 years after the astronomer’s death, they had last been seen in 1905 before resurfacing and being brought to the Museum of the History of Science in Florence. The museum, now called the Galileo Museum, was already home to another of Galileo’s fingers.
_lime_time: I am so shocked that I have never heard of this until now.
Allah_Sheedy: Who’s got the brain of JFK? What’s it mean to us now?
Nomicakes: An intern knocked over its container, broke it, and then trashbagged the lot and pretended nothing ever happened.
I guarantee it.
your_comments_say: JFK’s brain was removed by a rifle.
KimmelToe: abby somebody, abby normal
deytookerjaabs: TIL: A Scientist who performed the autopsy as well as the woman who processed the photos of it both say the autopsy photos in the national archives are nothing like what they performed and processed.
IronicMetamodernism: Nixon ate it. That’s the real reason he had to go.
suckboyjake: The evidence suggests that Robert Kennedy removed the evidence himself as the President’s brother and the AG from the archive and had it and the tissue samples buried at sea sometime in 1965.
Higher_higher: “Hey Bill, I finished that jar of leftover souffle you left in the fridge.”
Pavel_Gatilov: Old joke always will be relevant:
Conspirator dies and goes to haven.
Jesus: You lived your life as a good man, you may ask me one question and I will give you a honest answer.
Conspirator: Who actually killed Kennedy?
Jesus: Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, using his own Carcano M91 rifle.
Conspirator: This goes deeper than I thought.
Not_Just_Any_Lurker: And maybe I’ll return it if they don’t fuck with net neutrality.
OnzogoTheSogliograph: Since then all presidents have their brains removed preemptively at the start of their first term, or in some recent cases during the campaign.
Spdrjay: Someone is going to use the brain DNA to make an army of cloned JFK’s!
I guarantee it.
desktopissue: The Order of Skull and Bones took it as a companion for Geronimos skull.
pinksphincter: Bubba Ho Tep!!!
gbiypk: I’m sure Bender needed it to complete a set.
nitwittery: [Pearl Jam wrote a song about this!](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osZmEQljDs8) One of my faves of theirs.
Somebody out there knows exactly where it is.
Though why they’d want it, I have no clue.
CleverInnuendo: It was replaced by a bag of sand!
AfriQ: While you are looking, please see if you can find Trumps one as well
boardgamejoe: He lost his mind, twice.
ItsNevereveN: Stolen and not lost
Kherus1: Fucking brain juice tracks all over the carpet. Do you want ants? Cause that’s how you get ants.
taylaj: He knew too much, couldn’t risk him coming back
NowFreeToMaim: Lost…. some motherfucker took that shit home
EmptyChair: What’s with us having so much trouble keeping brains from vanishing? Wasn’t Einstein’s brain stolen too? Also, why do we take the brains of notable people? Isn’t that wrong/illegal/immoral?
youreeka: I thought his brain was removed and stored on the back of a Lincoln Continental…
azazelcrowley: Hitlers skull, JFKs brain, Nixons conscience… someone is building a frankenleader.
yoloswag420blaze69: Now *this* sounds like a good plot to a secret agent movie.
*His brain has top secret information that could undermine our democracy!*
richardhead6666: He was murdered, his brother was murdered, marylon monroe was murdered due to pillow talk. The timeline of nursed silence goes as follows, jfk told mlk something he shouldn’t have, jfk dead 63, king dead April 1968, rfk tried to pick up the same ball dead June 1968.
robeast88: C o N s P i R a C y
csidebot: It was reinterred with him when he was moved to his permanent burial spot. This was overseen by Bobby and Ted Kennedy.
errolstafford: WAY WAY BACK IN THE 1980S
SECRET GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
DUG UP FAMOUS GUYS AND LADIES
anothercopy: Dont remember the details but from the summary I heard that this is part of the ‘conspiracy’ or hiding evidence, since the independent analysis of the brain could disprove the official line that was presented to the public
dullsoundofsharpmath: I also don’t think I knew this and the Pearl Jam lyric:
Who’s got the brain of JFK and what’s it mean to us now
Makes more sense
RogerTheBadger: It’s probably on the desk of some billionaire villain.
Middleman79: Bush snr ate it.
-Pixie-: This explains the Brain of J. song by Pearl Jam!
TheRealAdmiralPrice: Honestly, it’s all the bizarre crap that surrounds the JFK assassination that fuels the conspiracy theories.
illusionofpower: My co-worker just made an interesting point, was it removed to conceal evidence?
iRadiant: The CIA or FBI really intentionally made a mess of this, this really was an inside job..
FerrariBeach: We’ve all misplaced something. I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached to my shoulders.
ginner01: The brain was lost somewhere between Dallas general and Bethesda Naval hospital. The brain would have indicated Bullet trajectory, The brain could prove or disprove the “magic bullet” theory.
nerbovig: It’s under Johnson’s bed no doubt. CIA involvement confirmed.
cantpissoffmods: Haha “lost”… Of course it had to be lost.
QuarterOztoFreedom: The Russians may be up to some shady sh*t, but at least they never assassinated their own president.