PBS Special Programs
3:09 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Fifty years later, NOVA investigates the assassination of John F. Kennedy

President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy smile at the crowds lining their motorcade route in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Minutes later the President was assassinated as his car passed through Dealey Plaza.
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy smile at the crowds lining their motorcade route in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Minutes later the President was assassinated as his car passed through Dealey Plaza.
Credit Courtesy of © Bettmann/CORBIS

NOVA: Cold Case JFK premieres Wednesday, November 13 at 9 p.m. on West Virginia PBS

In Cold Case JFK, NOVA follows a unique group of experts trying to unravel the lingering mysteries of the Kennedy assassination. What should have been a homicide investigator’s best-case scenario—a crime that occurred in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses—instead became a forensics nightmare in a case plagued by a mishandled crime scene, a controversial autopsy, and a prime suspect gunned down while in police custody.

NOVA combines cutting edge technology and contemporary scientific techniques with archival footage and expert interviews to recreate the crime and the Warren Commission’s investigation--examining the shooting, the assassination scene, the medical information and wounds, and the evidence found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

The film features several exclusive elements: For the first time since the original investigation by the FBI laboratory, forensic scientists trained and experienced in both firearms identification and shooting scene reconstruction review and evaluate the ballistics evidence in the JFK assassination. These experts apply new technology, not available until recently, to this historic crime.

Renowned JFK assassination expert and professor John McAdams weighs in on the findings of the original Warren Commission, the deficiencies of the medical and autopsy evidence, and the lack of understanding on the part of the Kennedy camp on the need for a forensic autopsy at the time.

Veteran investigator Josiah Thompson also studies the most famous “eye witness” account of that day: the 8mm Zapruder film—perhaps the best known “home movie” in history--which captures the shooting and wounds sustained by both the president and the Texas governor as their motorcade rides through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a defining moment in our nation’s history and one that continues to perplex us. It was also the murder of a man. A half-century later, the shooting remains controversial to a majority of the public that doubts the Warren Commission findings that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. In Cold Case JFK, NOVA shows viewers the importance of re-examining the evidence of prior eras using the technology and tools of today to try to unlock the secrets of the past and yield important new insights.