Testimony Of Margaret M. Henchliffe

The testimony of Margaret M. Henchliffe was taken at 2 p.m., on March 21, 1964, at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Arlen Specter, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
Mr. SPECTER - Miss Henchliffe, the purpose of our asking you to come in today is in connection with the investigation being conducted by the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. The Commission has not written to you because, we have learned from Mrs. Doris Nelson in the deposition taken yesterday that you have some information of value to provide to us so that the regular procedure has not been followed of sending you a copy of the Executive order or of the resolution concerning the procedures of the taking of testimony.
Permit me to make those documents available to you. (Handed instruments to the Witness Henchliffe.)
Let me say that since yesterday I have contacted Mr. J. Lee Rankin, General Counsel, in Washington and he has authorized the taking of this deposition by letter, which I received today, so that it has been authorized, and the real question I have with you is whether it is all right with you to provide us with the information you have today, as opposed to sometime next week after you have had the 3 days' notice which you are entitled to if you want it?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - It is all right with me.
Mr. SPECTER - Is it all right with you to proceed and have your deposition taken today?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you shall give before this Commission as it is holding deposition proceedings now will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - Will you state your full name, please?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Margaret M. Henchliffe.
Mr. SPECTER - What is your occupation or profession?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I am a nurse, registered nurse.
Mr. SPECTER - And where are you employed?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Mr. SPECTER - And where were you employed on November 22, 1963?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Mr. SPECTER - And were you notified on that date that the President was on his way to the hospital?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - No, sir; I didn't know it at the time until later.
Mr. SPECTER - When did you first learn about it. if at all?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I found out who it was when I went out to get blood.
Mr. SPECTER - About what time of day was that?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, I guess it was about 2 ,minutes after he came in.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you observe him at some place in the hospital?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I was working with him in the emergency room.
Mr. SPECTER - Had he arrived in the emergency room when you first arrived at the site of the emergency room?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Do what?
Mr. SPECTER - Were you in the area of the emergency room before he came there?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you see him actually wheeled into the emergency room?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes; in fact, I helped wheel him on into trauma room 1.
Mr. SPECTER - And, where was he when you first saw him?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - He was between trauma rooms 1 and 2.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you see him when he was brought into the hospital itself?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - At the emergency entrance---no. It was after he came into the emergency room.
Mr. SPECTER - He came into the emergency area?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - And then you saw him and helped wheel him, you say, into the emergency room No. 1?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - And who else was present at the time you first saw him when he had just come into the emergency area?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Let me see, I think Dr. Carrico was there-he was there very shortly after--afterwards.
Mr. SPECTER - He was there when you arrived? Or arrived shortly after you did?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, actually I went in ahead of the cart with him and I was the first one in with him, and just in a minute, or seconds, Dr. Carrico came in.
Mr. SPECTER - And what other doctors arrived, if any?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Oh, gee. Let's see---there was Dr. Baxter, Dr. Perry, and you want all of them that were in the room?
Mr. SPECTER - If you can remember them.
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Dr. Kemp Clark, Dr. Jenkins, Dr. Peters, Dr. Crenshaw, and there was some woman anesthetist that I don't know which--who it was.
Mr. SPECTER - What did you observe to be the President's condition when you first saw him?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I saw him breathe a couple of times and that was all.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you see any wound anywhere on his body?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes; he was very bloody, his head was very bloody when I saw him at the time.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you ever see any wound in any other part of his body?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - When I first saw him---except his head.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you see any wound on any other part of his body?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes; in the neck.
Mr. SPECTER - Will you describe it, please?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - It was just a little hole in the middle of his neck.
Mr. SPECTER - About how big a hole was it?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - About as big around as the end of my little finger.
Mr. SPECTER - Have you ever had any experience with bullet holes?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - And what did that appear to you to be?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - An entrance bullet hole it looked to me like.
Mr. SPECTER - Could it have been an exit bullet hole?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I have never seen an exit bullet hole I don't remember seeing one that looked like that.
Mr. SPECTER - What were the characteristics of the hole?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - It was just a little round---just a little round hole, just a little round jagged-looking---jagged a little bit.
Mr. SPECTER - What experience have you had in observing bullet holes, Miss Henchliffe?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, we take care of a lot of bullet wounds down there--I don't know how many a year.
Mr. SPECTER - Have you ever had any formal studies of bullet holes?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Oh, no; nothing except my experience in the emergency room.
Mr. SPECTER - In what?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - In the emergency room is all.
Mr. SPECTER - What was done to the President after he arrived at the emergency room?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well the first thing, his endotracheal tube was inserted.
Mr. SPECTER - Were you present all the time he was in the emergency room?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Except when I left out to get blood.
Mr. SPECTER - And how long were you gone?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Oh, about 3 minutes or so--3 or 4 minutes.
Mr. SPECTER - And were you present when he was pronounced dead?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - What was done with the President's body after he was pronounced to be dead?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, after the last rites were said, we then undressed him and cleaned him up and wrapped him up in sheets until the coffin was brought.
Mr. SPECTER - And after the coffin arrived, what was done with his body?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - He was placed in the coffin.
Mr. SPECTER - What had he been on up until that time?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - An emergency room cart.
Mr. SPECTER - And is that also described as a stretcher?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - A stretcher---yes.
Mr. SPECTER - Would you describe what this stretcher looked like?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, how do you describe a stretcher---it's just a long----
Mr. SPECTER - Made of metal?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes; it's made of metal.
Mr. SPECTER - On roller wheels?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Roller wheels with a rubber mattress on it, rubber covered mattress on it.
Mr. SPECTER - And after he was taken off of the stretcher, what was left on the stretcher at that time?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Just some sheets and I guess there were some dirty syringes and needles laying on it that we picked up.
Mr. SPECTER - That you picked up---where were they placed?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - We placed them on a tray and took them all out to the utility room.
Mr. SPECTER - How many sheets were there on the stretcher?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, I am really not sure---there was probably about two or three.
Mr. SPECTER - And in what position were they all on the stretcher after President Kennedy's body was removed
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, one was covering the whole mattress and there was one or two that we had left just under his head, that had been placed under his head.
Mr. SPECTER - And what was done with those sheets?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - They were all rolled up and taken to the dirty linen hamper.
Mr. SPECTER - Do you know who took those to the dirty linen hamper?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - To the best of my knowledge, the orderly.
Mr. SPECTER - And who was he?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - David Sanders---is that his name?
Mr. SPECTER - And what was done with the stretcher?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - It was rolled into the room across the hall.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you actually see the stretcher that President Kennedy was on rolled into the room across the hall?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - And into which room was it rolled?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Room 2.
Mr. SPECTER - What was that?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Room 2.
Mr. SPECTER - Emergency room No. 2?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - And, when it was rolled into emergency room 2, were the sheets still all on, or were they off at that time?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I believe they were off.
Mr. SPECTER - Is it possible that the stretcher that Mr. Kennedy was on was rolled with the sheets on it down into the area near the elevator?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - No, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - Are you sure of that?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I am positive of that.
Mr. SPECTER - Have you anything to add that you think might be helpful to the Commission?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - No, sir; I don't think of anything.
Mr. SPECTER - Did I talk to you about the purpose of the Commission and the same questions that I have been asking and the answers that you have been giving for a few minutes before the Court reporter came in to take this down in shorthand?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - And did you give me the same information at that time?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - To the best of my ability.
Mr. SPECTER - Thank you very much for coming.
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Okay.
(At this point the witness, Henchliffe, was thereupon excused from the deposing room.)
(In approximately 3 minutes thereafter the witness returned to the deposing room and the deposition continued as follows:)
Mr. SPECTER - Let me ask you a couple of questions more, Miss Henchliffe, one other question, or two, before you go. Was the wound on the front of the neck surrounded by any blood?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - No, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - Was there any blood at all in that area?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - No, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - What was there about the wound, if you recall anything special, which gave you the impression it was an entrance wound?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, it was just a small wound and wasn't jagged like most of the exit bullet wounds that I have seen.
Mr. SPECTER - If there was a high-powered rifle, or a high-powered rifle was going at a fast speed, as fast as 2,000 feet per second, which encountered only soft tissue in the body, would you have sufficient knowledge to know whether or not the appearance of that hole would be consistent with an exit wound?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, from some information I received in talking to someone about guns later on, they said that this is possible. But you have a small exit wound---you could have a small exit wound.
Mr. SPECTER - Under what circumstances?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - As you described---a very fast bullet that didn't hit anything but soft tissue going through.
Mr. SPECTER - And do you have any other source of information or basis for having an opinion whether it was an entrance wound or an exit wound other than that source of information you just described, plus your general experience here at Parkland as a nurse?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - No, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - How long have you been at Parkland as a nurse?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, I have had emergency room experience for about 5 years here and a couple of years at Baylor Hospital.
Mr. SPECTER - And is that the total sum of your experience?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - In the emergency room. what other experience have you had besides emergency room experience.
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Well, in the operating room here.
Mr. SPECTER - How long have you had operating room experience here?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - 3 years.
Mr. SPECTER - How long have you been a registered nurse altogether?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - 12 years--almost 12 years.
Mr. SPECTER - And what is the source of information about the appearance of an exit wound from a high-powered gun which you have just described?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - I don't remember who I was talking to now. I was just talking to someone one day about gunshots and after this-report came out that said that any high-powered gun that this could happen.
Mr. SPECTER - That it could be an exit wound which looked very much like an entrance wound with the missile striking nothing but soft tissue?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - Yes, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - Do you have anything else to add?
Miss HENCHLIFFE - No.
Mr. SPECTER - Thank you very much.
Miss HENCHLIFFE - All right. 1