The Mysterious Disappearance Of JFK’s Brain

“The human mind is our fundamental resource.” —President John F. Kennedy

In A Nutshell

In 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and his brain was locked away in the National Archives. However, three years later, government officials discovered the president’s brain had disappeared without a trace. Needless to say, the disappearance of JFK’s organ has given rise to some pretty crazy conspiracy theories.

The Whole Bushel

Whether you think there was a lone gunman or a conspiracy of Oliver Stone proportions, there’s no denying the assassination of JFK was, well, weird. From magic bullets to changes in parade routes, the case is full of bizarre circumstances and odd coincidences, but perhaps the strangest mystery of all is the case of JFK’s missing brain.

Of course, there wasn’t a whole lot of his brain left to go missing. According to the Warren Commission, two bullets hit Kennedy from the rear, one going through his neck, and the other hitting him in the head, spraying bits of skull, skin, and brain matter everywhere. When Kennedy finally arrived at the hospital, doctors noticed Jackie Kennedy was clutching something in her hands . . . which turned out to be a big glob of the president’s brain. But what happened to the rest of it?

After the autopsy, the brain was placed in an 18-by-20-centimeter (7 x 8 in) stainless steel container which the Secret Service locked away in a cabinet inside the White House. In 1965, Robert Kennedy transferred the brain to a special room in the National Archives along with a locker holding other autopsy materials like his brother’s blood samples and bone fragments. And then . . . well, no one’s sure. In 1966, officials were going through the autopsy materials when they noticed a few items were missing, like the locker full of tissue and, embarrassingly, the president’s brain. Baffled, the government searched for the missing body parts and questioned over 30 people, but no one had any clue where Kennedy’s brain had run off to.

The disappearance of the autopsy materials was kept a secret until 1978 when the House Select Committee on Assassinations publicly revealed that someone had misplaced JFK’s gray matter. Or had they? Maybe there was something more insidious going on. It should come as no surprise that conspiracy theories abound over Kennedy’s missing brain. Most conspiracy theorists suspect the government “lost” the brain to make sure that no one found out how many bullets actually hit Kennedy or what angle they had really come from.

However, another theory proposed by author James Swanson posits that Robert Kennedy stole his brother’s brain to cover up Kennedy’s health problems or possibly his drug use. While it’s true that Kennedy was using large amounts of codeine, Demerol, and methadone to deal with back pain, Kent Sepkowitz of “The Daily Beast” makes a strong argument against this particular conspiracy. According to Sepkowitz, in 1966, analysis of Kennedy’s brain would’ve revealed very little about his physical health. Even today, doctors wouldn’t be able to determine if JFK was abusing medication simply by studying his cerebrum. But regardless of who’s right, the brain is still very much missing. Perhaps there’s some devious conspiracy afoot, or perhaps the brain just got lost in the bureaucratic shuffle, proving you can’t trust Washington with anything.

Show Me The Proof

Rome News-Tribune: JFK’s brain lost after autopsy
The Daily Beast: The CAst of JFK’s Missing Brain
The Telegraph: John F Kennedy’s ‘missing brain’ may have been taken by younger brother, claims new book
Boston Magazine: Fifty Years Later, Mystery Shrouds Questions Regarding the Whereabouts of JFK’s Brain
History Matters: HSCA Appendix to Hearings

  • oouchan

    Really think Magneto tried to help, but not so sure….
    It’s definitely a head-scratcher…why would someone make off with it? Kinda creepy if you ask me. Might be sitting in a jar on someone’s desk right now….gross!

    • Hillyard

      Head scratcher? I see what you did there.
      It could have been a careless employee that knocked it over or threw the stuff away by accident. It’s also possible that someone stole it and sold it to a private collector. I don’t think that in the long run it really matters except to the Tin Foil Hat Brigade.

      • oouchan


      • Erika Madson

        So in your mind, it “doesn’t matter” that our own fucking government potentially played a role in the assassination of THE PRESIDENT? I guess anyone with the audacity to question authority is relegated to the ranks of tin-foil hat “ConspiRetard” nutjobs. How comforting it is to know that I live in a country populated by such ignorant, naive cretins.

        • Hillyard

          Come back with real proof.

  • Number Six

    Something smells fishy……or brainy……,or Marilyn Monroe-y…….

    • lonelydisco

      Hey, weird request here: describe the taste of good steak.

      • Number Six


      • Number Six

        ……I’m so confused…..

        • lonelydisco

          You can do it, 6! You’re better than 10!

          • Number Six

            But…..but….I don’t even like steak!

          • lonelydisco

            Well, let’s start with “why”. From there, I can ask you about ragout.

          • Number Six

            Medium rare, tender, melts in the mouth, succulent and beefy.

            Does that work, or am I completely lost?

          • lonelydisco

            Yeah, yeah, I expected that, but what else?

          • Number Six

            This joke/pun/scheme (if it is any of those) is going to be monumental, seeing as it’s going on 6 days now, and I still don’t fully grasp what you’re asking me. I feel inadequate, I’m sorry I’ve failed you LD……forgive meeeeeeeeeeee……

            I think I might be overthinking this whole situation….

          • lonelydisco

            I just wanna hear about some damn steak!!!!

          • I want to hear about tacos.

          • lonelydisco

            Well, ask around, you’re in New Mexico!

          • I have crippling social anxiety, so I can’t ask around. That’s why I’m asking you. Help me ‘Disco.

          • lonelydisco

            To the point that you can’t get up and buy a taco.

          • I don’t want to eat the goddamn thing, I want to hear about it.

          • lonelydisco

            Relatively filling, pseudo-exotic, nice garden crunch, spiced, not seasoned, with just a nice amount of umami.

          • I want you to make me say umami and mean it!

          • lonelydisco

            Uh, mami, where the hell are my goddamn car keys?!

          • Quinby

            you might be confusing taco and tako…

          • lonelydisco

            The knife, or the band? I’m putting my money on the knife, it fits the description.

          • Number Six

            “A beefsteak is a flat cut of beef, usually cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers. Beefsteaks are usually grilled, pan-fried, or broiled. The more tender cuts from the loin and rib are cooked quickly, using dry heat, and served whole. Less tender cuts from the chuck or round are cooked with moist heat or are mechanically tenderized (cf. cube steak).”
            “In the United States, a restaurant that specializes in beefsteaks is known as a steakhouse, and typical steak dinner consists of a steak, with a starchy side dish, usually baked or mashed potatoes, but occasionally another potato dish, rice, pasta, or beans. A side salad or a small serving of cooked vegetables often accompanies the meat and side, with corn on the cob, green beans, creamed spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, and onion rings being popular. A well-known accompaniment to steak is shrimp or a cooked lobster tail, a combination often called “surf and turf” or “reef and beef” and “pier and steer”. Rounding out an American steak dinner is some sort of bread, usually a dinner roll[citation needed].

            Special steak knives are provided, which are usually serrated, though straight blades also work; they also often have wooden handles. Prepared condiments known as steak sauces are generally on the table in steakhouses. Tenderized round or sirloin steaks, breaded, and pan-fried or deep-fried, are called chicken fried or country fried steaks, respectively. Thinly sliced ribeye or other tender cuts, cooked on a hot griddle and shredded slightly, and served on Italian style rolls are called Philly steaks, named after Philadelphia, the city in which they became famous.”

            There!!! Everything in the known universe about steak!

          • Bloody. Bloody with pus. Pussy.

  • inconspicuous detective

    the best kept open secret in american history: jfk was indeed assassinated to keep the vietnam war a reality. ah well.

  • Pascalis Claudius Lotinggi

    Why would a brain cause panic to “some” people?

  • Quinby

    this is the recently released security footage of the suspected brain thief. If seen do not approach or he may make you walk this way.

    • Lisa 39


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  • pablo mayhew

    The asinine tone of this article was created by a total moron who has no grasp of historical significance.

  • terryparkerjr

    Any investigative reporters ever question if JFK’s missing brain tissue was utilized for a covert transplant upon a unwitting subject? As a unwitting patient of Neurosurgeon Dr. Harold J. Hoffman of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, have in my medical records, a diagram of a left temporal lobe, which I question, if it’s JFK’s missing brain tissue. With all of this secrecy on JFK’s missing left temp lobe, along with Dr. Hoffman’s covert brain surgical experimentation gives me reason to believe there’s a connection. Have we found JFK’s missing brain tissue?