Friday, 07 June 2024 22:32

A Tribute to Cyril Wecht, MD, JD

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The research community has lost a giant – one of its most legendary figures – with the death of the eminent Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dr. David Mantik has penned this tribute.

In Chicago during April 1-4, 1993, the Second Annual Midwest Symposium on Assassination Politics featured one of the most impressive groups of experts ever assembled. It was my first conference. Here I met Cyril for the first time and watched his impassioned 20-minute speech on the Single Bullet Theory.

Dr. Cyril Wecht’s impassioned speech at the 1993 Chicago JFK assassination conference remastered (


Chicago Assassination Politics Conference Videos: JFK, RFK and MLK (

Little did I know that 30 years later I would introduce this same (recorded) speech at a dinner honoring Cyril during his final conference:

The JFK Assassination at 60.

The Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law.

22nd Annual Symposium, November 15-17, 2023.

Here is a snapshot from that 2023 Pittsburgh conference. The arrows identify the following individuals: my cinematographer daughter Meredith (just 6 years old in 1993), the back of Mrs. Cyril Wecht, Mike Nurko (board member), and Glenda Devaney (conference coordinator). On the screen in the background, Dr. Wecht gesticulates dramatically during his 1993 Shakespearean oration on the Single Bullet Theory. That night, Gary Aguilar and myself gave speeches honoring Cyril, who was in a wheelchair. He even suggested that this might be his last JFK conference. But even in his weakened condition, he was determined to be part of it. He passed away a few months later on May 13, 2024 at age 93.

My son, Christopher Mantik, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School in 2019 and then completed his one-year internship there. Cyril graduated from the same medical school in 1956, while I was still in high school. During my son’s five years in Pittsburgh, I frequently worked as a locum tenens physician for UPMC, so Cyril and I often met for lunch or dinner. After staying with him overnight in the Squirrel Hill area (his longtime residence), he offered parting advice on negotiating the Pittsburgh freeway system. As I successfully arrived at my temporary residence, I turned on my television set. The voice that promptly came booming out was—believe it or not—Cyril Wecht on a live documentary!

We had lunch on another occasion (I think it was Yesterday’s Bar and Grill) where we discussed the JonBenet Ramsey case. Cyril had been rather vocal about his views. His summary follows here:

Forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht believed the blow to the head occurred when she was already dead or dying. "We can scientifically eliminate this theory," Dr. Wecht said, "that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter because she lost her mind ind a split second and struck the girl with tremendous force on the top of the head. That is absurd."

Dr. Cyril Wecht on JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case (

What had happened is that because of his notoriety on the John Kennedy case, he had now become the forensic pathologist that the media went to for opinions on other high profile murder cases. For example, he also rendered an opinion and appeared on television to talk about the Epstein case.

When my son first arrived in Pittsburgh, Cyril took his family and me, with Chris and his wife, to one of his favorite Italian restaurants near the river. No one ordered anything. But we were soon blessed with nearly all the offerings of the restaurant—from beginning to end. I have never quite recovered from that totally unspoken, but perfectly-orchestrated journey through the menu. This was the almost too kind generosity of Cyril Wecht.

On another occasion, Cyril made a reservation at the Casbah restaurant for just the three of us. Ironically, although Cyril did not know this, Chris and I had previously been there to celebrate Chris’s purchase of a condo in the Shadyside area. Later, with my wife and daughter, and Chris’s wife, we would celebrate his medical school graduation there. But that night it was just the three of us. We were seated 40-50 feet from the front entrance. Cyril was facing the door. I swear that nearly every other party that entered that night promptly acknowledged Cyril’s presence! This was the popularity that the man had. I was flabbergasted.

Another time Cyril and I had Sunday brunch at a local home-style restaurant. On cue, the waiter promptly brought Cyril his favorite item, while I took time to wander through the menu.

At another lunch I had the pleasure of sharing with Cyril, several images from a PowerPoint presentation, which is now at my website: The Mantik View - Articles and Research on the JFK Assassination by David W. Mantik M.D., Ph.D. I shall always be grateful for his kind Amazon review of my hardcover book. I shall also treasure his gifts of several of his own books, which included his generous accolades.

On another occasion, while in my home desert, we had a delightful dinner at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort with my ingenious surgical colleague, Phillip Bretz. Bretz had crossed paths (perhaps I should instead more accurately say “crossed swords”) with another Pittsburgh medical graduate (possibly its most famous)—Bernie Fisher, who pioneered conservative treatments for women with breast cancer, thus leaving radical mastectomies mostly in the dustbin of history. Bretz, too, had been a pioneer, as his research led to the contemporary widespread use of tamoxifen. His trailblazing work was adopted in many subsequent clinical trials on breast cancer, trials that were of course led by Bernie Fisher. Curiously, Cyril advised me that Bernie and he shared the same barber. (What—Cyril needed a barber?) Cyril sometimes left notes for Bernie with their shared barber!

Cyril’s mother, Fannie Rubenstein, was a Ukrainian-born homemaker. My maternal grandmother, Emily Dobberstein, was also born in Ukraine; she was an illiterate and often barefooted peasant—at least until she arrived in the USA and bought shoes for the frosty northern Wisconsin winters. But she never did learn to read.

Cyril was a man of many talents. I suspect that he could have rivaled Sir Kenneth Branagh as a Shakespearean actor. And we all know that, as an undergraduate, he was the concertmaster for the University of Pittsburgh orchestra. Of course, he also earned a law degree—despite working essentially full time (while supporting a young family) while doing so. But many do not recall that he had also served as a captain in the medical corps while at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Most of all, though, he was an authentic gentleman, in keeping with the older meaning of the term. On several occasions, he called me just to connect, including on a recent Thanksgiving Day. For a recent Hanukkah, we received a wonderful gift in the mail from a Pittsburgh pastry shop. He never failed to inquire about my family and their health. Of course, he had met Chris and Meredith; they had had dinner together in Pittsburgh, when Meredith interviewed him for her documentary on the JFK researchers. See the photograph just below—which also appears on the back of my hardcover book. (This very week, as I write, Meredith is working with her former film professor on this JFK project; Cyril will likely be featured.)


There will never be another Cyril Wecht—that would be inconceivable. He was the one foresic patholgoist who refused to accept the offiical story on the JFK case, he thought it was too absured to contemplate. And in his speeches, he assailed the entire establishment for accepting the Warren Commission. He will always be remembered, not merely for his many talents, but also for his courage, his audacity, and his spell-binding oratory. It has been one of life’s greatest honors to know him. We offer our best wishes to his wife and family. What a photographic album of memories they all surely have.


Jim DiEugenio has also paid tribute to Dr. Wecht at his substack site, which is still free. Here are links to Part One and to Part Two.

Last modified on Monday, 10 June 2024 21:41
David Mantik

David W. Mantik, MD, Ph.D., is a board certified radiation oncologist who previously served on the tenure-track physics faculty at U. Michigan. He received his PhD in physics from U. Wisconsin, his MD from Michigan, completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford, and held a Junior Faculty Clinical Fellowship at USC.  He has visited the National Archives on nine separate occasions and has written extensively about the JFK medical evidence, particularly the autopsy images.  He has recently published an e-book, JFK’s Head Wounds.


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