When Air Force One's crew Learned of the Kennedy assassination, They refused to put his body in the cargo hold and modified the plane with a hacksaw to be able to take the coffin in the cabin.
The position of the Dallas police was that it was the law that the body could not leave city limits.
The position of the federal government was that, since Attorney General Bobby Kennedy was officially the highest ranking law officer in the U.S., then he could overrule them.
I Am Not A Lawyer, but if Lee Harvey Oswald had gone to trial, this all could have been an important point -- the Law is supposed to keep all evidence under its direct control and not let anyone or anything tamper with it.
The book "Best Evidence" by David Lifton has a theory that was good at keeping me up at night.
Note that they refused to take the casket in the cargo hold. What could happen if it was up in the cabin? Lifton describes the surgery that could be done on the body during the flight back to D.C. that would make it look like the exact opposite of what happened.
They could take a body that had been shot from the front and make it look like it had been shot from the back. Then at the autopsy in D.C. there would be no question of multiple shooters on a grassy knoll. One shooter in the Texas School Book Depository would be the conclusion.
If the body had stayed in the hands of the Dallas police, there would be safeguards against that happening.
A crime has occurred. A man has been murdered in Dallas City limits, Dallas PD has jurisdiction. A federal official in line of duty is murdered, FBI has jurisdiction.
How this gets settled out, is normally a matter of priority.
The FBI will typically take the murder jacket but the locals will run the autopsy and report because it's easier.
i'd have to talk with the Local ME's see if the FBI even runs their own coroners. The only ME's I know of in the federal system are typically Military.
I imagine the proper approach would be to run the autopsy at Parkland or at the Dallas Coroners office, with FBI/Secret service as recipients of chain of evidence, and Dallas PD as witnesses.
That would mean leaving JFKs corpse in Dallas for a day, and LBJ flying to DC. But nobody was thinking very clearly.
LBJ needed to take AF-1 to DC immediately, and a USAF Cargo jet needed to take JFKs body back to DC later.
I don't exactly blame a whole lot of people for being upset and making bad decisions. They were humans in a terrible minute.
The autopsy is one of the main reasons there is such confusion and controversy about the Assassination. Partially because it was so farcically done.
The two pathologists who performed it had never done a single gunshot wound autopsy in their entire careers. They never spoke to the doctors at Parkland Hospital (who’s recollections of Kennedy’s wounds are different to what the autopsy concluded), the original autopsy report was burnt, and then a new one was made from the doctors memory. The locations of none of jfk’s wounds are known with any precision. The back wound, for example, was not measured against a standard anatomical feature, and was photographed with the body in a distorted position. The fundamental question, of whether or not the back and throat wounds were caused by the same bullet, could have been answered by dissecting the wounds and the connecting tissue, but the pathologists were ordered not to do this according to sworn testimony.
IIRC he was in the hospital dying and the local police & authorities wanted to take possession of the body as he had died in Texas, and the shooter had committed murder in Texas. They would have then performed an autopsy on the body of the president, kept him in their freezer until the investigation was complete, etc., before releasing it to the family for burial.
USSS said nope, and were basically willing to draw their weapons and defend the body of the president with force. The local cops didn't want to get down like that, so they let them take possession of the body and put it on a plane back to DC.
Not 100% sure if it was a federal crime to kill the president at that time or not, i.e., it Lee Harvey Oswald may not have been guilty of a federal crime so it was unclear who had "jurisdiction" of the investigation.
Aircraft structural mechanic here. We seal any parts that get attached to the skin and fasteners that go through the skin and load any possibly leaky areas with sealant. When we're done with major work we do a pressurization test where we pressurize the whole plane and see how bad it leaks. We're allowed a certain tolerance like 1psi in 15 mins for example so the leaking is pretty miniscule and the way the pressurization system works more than makes up for that small bit of leakage. Unfortunately there's pretty much no way to entirely seal a 150+ foot-long airplane with millions of rivets and screws going through it.
The coffin is typically taken out in order with the other items, but is also ceremoniously escorted by military personnel to its final destination. They fly with them and ride with them to the final resting location. On occasion they will also be one of the military members to do the final salute and assist with the folding of the flag and delivery of it to the family.
Source: Was present at a funeral as a kid and asked one of the soldier there.
The escorts and coffin may not be on their last stop or will be picked up by a hearse and local Honor Guard at the tarmac, so things might be delayed. It's also a matter of respect. You aren't asked to do much other than wait for the coffin to be removed and transferred and so the escorts can disembark and salute the fallen service member as they go.
As far as being the last out of the cargo hold, most of the coffins have a space for them to be specifically in the plane or are the last things interred before takeoff, all of this is observed by the escorts and local Honor Guard of the particular location.
As far as I know, civilians are not given the same treatment, but I might be wrong.
Same process is observed for nonviolent passing overseas, but in country, they likely live and will be interred at a location near their current station.