President of the United States, John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas sixty years ago on 22 November 1963. This cruel brutal act was prosecuted by Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24 year old, self absorbed, chaotic narcissist, at a location that is so small and intimate it has to be visited to appreciate. This shooting assassination was so simple and completed at extremely short range. Despite the outcome of a detailed official investigation it has nevertheless initiated the greatest and most complex murder controversy and conspiracy hunt in modern history. Some people have made a lot of money pedalling the JFK conspiracy theories and they continue to do so.

This murder was not unique; three previous serving US Presidents had already been shot to death. Two others had been wounded by gunfire. The most most serious since JFK in Dallas in 1963 was Ronald Reagan in 1981. A further ten have been shot at or had gunfire directed towards locations they occupied. Some of the perpetrators, (all of which were dysfunctional misfits), were detained by security officials before they managed to get close enough. That includes, in more recent times, an attempt made on President Donald Trump by a perpetrator from the UK.

Not one of these deluded, arrogant outliers had links to any controlling organisation or governing influence outside their own tortured mindsets. Lee Harvey Oswald was no exception.

I was eight years old at the time of JFK’s assassination and I remember watching the after events unfold on a black and white television. My parents were engrossed and I became aware of the enormity of that day in Dallas. The details of that fateful day brought out the best, worst and the most forthright and bizarre; witnesses, security, police officers, involved medical staff and a host of investigators. Then came the reporters and authors and the conspiracy protagonists.

The taking of JFK’s life was not a surprise to some, even welcomed by a few but its apparent simple delivery and total success astounded most Americans who eventually found it difficult to accept the findings of the official Warren Commission which concluded 10 months later. The conclusion of the Commission was that JFK was shot and killed by a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. They further ascertained that Oswald acted alone. They simply concentrated on the facts that don’t go away. I visited Dallas in September 2022.

Dealey Plaza, now a National Historic Landmark immediately strikes you by one simple fact; how small it is. The white Bryan Pergola atop the small sloping grass bank alongside the plaza section of Elm Street, the grass area to the other side of Elm, the triple underpass and the former Texas School Book Depository building. The location today intentionally remains exactly as it was in 1963.

When the shots were fired at JFK, journalist Merriman Smith a UPI reporter in the White House Pool car following the Presidential motorcade grabbed the radiotelephone in the vehicle and called his UPI office. He hastily described the chaotic scene which included some police officers running up the grass bank from Elm Street. He referred to this insignificant small hillock as a ‘Grassy Knoll’. This location has since prompted theories that a shooter was positioned here. That was a reasonable assumption at the time but an investigation concluded that there was no evidence.

The world was immersed in the Cold War. The Bay of Pigs incident had been an embarrassment to the US, a world war had been avoided with the Cuban missile crisis and tensions between Soviet Russia and the West were at an all-time high. The Vietnam war was looming, and America was gripped by racist issues and taxation threats; the mix was volatile. The American public were distrustful of their politicians and the operations prosecuted by the security agencies, the FBI and the CIA. The thought of this arrogant young man with Russian connections, a Russian wife and sympathies with Cuba acting alone and outside a wider conspiracy seemed inconceivable to many.

Oswald managed to single handedly shoot and kill the President of the United States with a cheap bolt action rifle from a window overlooking the motorcade route through the public lined streets of Dallas. This complex and extremely vain outlier had delusions of grandeur but was constantly frustrated by his failure to grasp a path to greatness. Not content with mere success, he craved a state of prominence and resorted to perpetrating pure evil to gain notoriety. Sadly it worked. 

Diagnosed by a Psychiatrist at the age of 12 as, ’emotionally disturbed’, he was never part of anything for long. He would write up and record his grandiose plans and life events in what he referred to as a ‘Historic Diary‘. He was a totally dysfunctional loner, a malevolent malcontent; he was never a team player. He had served in the USMC – United States Marine Corp, 1956 – 1959. Within his short career span he was court martialled twice and jailed. He defected to Russia in October 1959, married a Russian girl but unimpressed by the soviet culture he set out to immerse himself in he came back to the USA with her in 1962.

He apparently never voiced a dislike for John Kennedy or indeed his policies, JFK would just become a passage to gain Oswald’s desperate need for notoriety. Trying to understand such a diabolic need from a sane and balanced perspective is futile; not comprehending it and then resorting to challenge that it actually happened has opened a void full of absolutely nothing.

Oswald’s view of Elm Street from the sixth story corner window of the Texas School Book Depository building in 1963 was almost exactly as you can see it here in 2022 as you can appreciate from these two images. You begin to question how an act that was so cruel and simple has become so complex.

The complexity of conspiracy theories is nothing to do with what occurred, it is the fantasy of what didn’t happen. There is a limit on facts but not on fiction.

A most impressive individual analysis is that of the attorney Vincent Bugliosi who in 2007 wrote Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F Kennedy. He described most of the numerous conspiracy theories to be, ‘As kooky as a three dollar bill’.

David Belin, counsel for the Warren Commission was clearly intrigued and concerned about the general appetite for conspiracy and the willingness of some authors and media to cash in on it. He addressed the National Press Club in March 1992, referencing the acronym, M-O-L-D. Misrepresentations, Omissions, Lies and Dollars. There is money to be made out of conspiracy.

 

 

Now 60 years on 60% of Americans still think there was a conspiracy. They cannot believe that such an undertaking could be so simply prosecuted. There is a reluctance to accept random and chance. Conspiracy theorists cling to the ‘hidden order of meaning’. Did luck play a part; of course it did. Oswald was lucky, but it must be stressed that he engaged his target from between just 53 and 81 metres. That is extremely short range for a medium velocity rifle. Oswald had been trained in the USMC to hit man sized targets out to 200 yards and there was a strong indication that he had practiced with his mail order rifle. There was no evidence of other shooters, just opinions.

Oswald had purchased his rifle, an Italian military surplus 6.5mm bolt-action Carcano and a Model 10 Smith & Wesson .38 revolver by mail order in March 1963. At this time he was living with his family in Neely Street, Oak Cliff, Dallas. On 10 April 1963 he tried but failed to assassinate General Edwin Walker, an extreme right-wing controversial character at Walker’s home in Dallas. Oswald travelled by bus to Walkers address in Turtle Creek Boulevard. From an estimated range of 30 metres from the front of the property he fired at Walker who was sitting in his study. The bullet narrowly missed Walker and struck the window frame. Marina Oswald testified to the Warren Commission that her husband had admitted to her that he had set out to kill General Walker. He had also told her that he had practiced with his rifle. She confirmed that on one occasion she saw him take the rifle, concealed in a raincoat, from their rented house. She described how in another property in New Orleans in May of 1963, she observed her husband sitting with the rifle on the porch at night, sighting with the scope and operating the bolt.

According to their family friend, George De Mohrenschildt, Oswald admitted that he went target shooting with that rifle. He never discussed or disclosed where he went. Marina Oswald was only able to give limited information to the Warren Commission about her husband’s activities and tendencies with his guns but the vague nature of her descriptions is typical and quite normal of a wife or partner who has absolutely no interest or understanding of firearms or shooting. She could not be depended upon for detailed and accurate information. There is nothing suspicious, odd or sinister about that, it is to be expected and perfectly normal and I know from personal experience.

Where exactly Oswald practised with his rifle is unknown. Whilst there was speculation that he was a present at a Dallas shooting range and a father and son at that facility described someone who resembled Oswald shooting alongside them, it was never substantiated or confirmed. Oswald was a loner and always short of money; why would he pay to shoot?

What is interesting however was the proximity of the Trinity River bottom that runs through the entire west to east breadth of Dallas, a distance of about 10 miles. Downtown Dallas is on the north side. The Trinity River bottom is a huge stretch of natural parkland running through the centre of the city and suburbs.

A Dallas gun shop owner testified to the Warren Commission that gun dealers in the vicinity of Love Field would use specific locations in the Trinity River bottom to test fire weapons they had for sale or had repaired. The basin was about 500 yards across and the levee’s at either side were steep and high enough to serve as safe bullet catch abutments. The Trinity river which ran through the centre of the basin would only normally be about 40 yards across unless it was flooded. This offered plenty of space either side of the river for private shooters, gun dealers or gunsmiths.

It was free land to use, a rugged and sheltered rural expanse in the middle of an urban sprawl. Such practises were perfectly legal, perpetrators were not committing an offence. Gun laws and the use of firearms in the USA are far more liberal than in most other parts of the world. There was both then and now absolutely nothing sinister about law abiding citizens doing such things as long as it was safe. If Oswald used the facility it is doubtful he would have drawn any attention whatsoever.

From the Dallas addresses Lee Harvey Oswald occupied, both alone and with his wife and family he was never far from the Trinity River bottom. He didn’t drive, so he would depend on lifts, buses or he could walk. When he lived in W Neely Street and N Beckley Avenue in Oak Hill he was within easy walking distance to the Trinity River bottom. Where his wife and children lodged in Irving with Ruth Paine, again the river basin was not far away, if indeed he had ever set off from there. Unknown to Ruth Paine, Oswald had kept his rifle wrapped in a blanket in her garage and he had transported it from there to his work location on the morning of the assassination.

The Warren Commission searched locations within the basin where investigators surmised Oswald might have gone but they found nothing. Perhaps they hoped to find spent cartridge cases that they could match to the murder weapon. If Oswald had been there, picking up his empty cylinders would perhaps have been a natural inclination. Despite no proof that he went there the fact remains it was a huge open facility that he could easily have utilised and his wife testified that he had admitted to her that he had practised with his rifle.

Today, the river basin is much the same as it was in the 1960’s except signed walking and cycling paths are more prominent. Access on foot is indeed very easy. I drove just two miles from Dealey Plaza along South Riverfront Blvd and parked. I walked past some scrap yards and found easy access into the basin. These images clearly shows access to this vast area and in the background in the image below is the tallest building in downtown Dallas, The Bank of America Plaza.

What the Dallas Police Department found immediately after the assassination and what the Warren Commission studied was a firing position on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building, a weapon belonging to Oswald, evidence he brought it to work on the morning of 22 November in Wesley Frazier’s car, proof the weapon was fired, bullet fragments, a whole bullet and 3 spent cartridge cases all of which matched the weapon. In addition to that he was seen in the sixth floor window by Howard Brennan and later he shot and killed a police officer, JD Tippet in front of Helen Markham and other witnesses with the .38 Smith & Wesson snub nosed revolver that he owned. He even ejected the fired cartridge cases at the scene.

Oswald’s Italian war surplus 6.5mm Carcano rifle was fitted with a left offset 4×18 scope which meant he could also use the option of utilising the open iron sights. He might well have done so and perhaps that is why he was able to re-cycle ammunition so fast and remain on target. His choice of weapon has been much debated. It is not the world’s best bolt action rifle, that is true, but it is a functional, capable weapon. I am not speculating; I decided to buy one.

John Wilkes Booth used a .41 single shot Deringer pistol to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. It was a ridiculous weapon for such a task. I know, because I own one of those too. Booth was successful and nobody questions it. He could easily have used a six shot revolver, more powerful and reliable and just as easy for him to conceal in the Ford Theatre. 

We have admired military snipers downing targets from thousands of metres in Iraq and Afghanistan but we doubt that a dubious ex-military anti-hero could hit a man size target over less than the length of a football pitch; and with no danger of somebody immediately firing back. In his futile attempt to escape he was seen by people who knew him and he murdered a police officer, less than an hour later in front of witnesses.

Oswald was stopped by Dallas Police Officer JD Tippet who was just doing his job and acting on the description of Oswald that had been broadcast. Oswald had been lucky up to this point, but he wasn’t clever, he drew attention to himself. The Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, like Lee Harvey Oswald was not a criminal mastermind. Three hours after detonating the bomb that killed 168 and injured 800 people in April 1995, he was stopped in his Mercury Marquis by a Police Officer for not displaying a rear licence plate. The Officer found a concealed firearm in the vehicle. McVeigh was stupid and soon in custody.

Oswald described himself as a patsy to reporters once he was in police custody. The definition of a patsy is very simple. This is a person on whom the initial blame for something is attributed to prior to a deeper investigation. This is what Oswald meant. He knew he was finally on the world stage and he was determined to play the media and attempt to make the Dallas Police look foolish. At this time the investigation was only just starting and Oswald had no idea what the police knew.

The definition of the term since the JFK assassination and after decades of conspiracy rhetoric has now been somewhat distorted. The term now describes someone who has been duped and specifically framed to take the blame for something they didn’t do in order to protect others who were more deeply involved.

In the case of Oswald his early declaration has been interpreted to mean that he played a role in the assassination but after being caught by Dallas Police he is disappointed to discover that he had been set up to take the full blame for it. If Oswald had meant this, (and he was part of a conspiracy team that had now deceived him), why would he implicate himself at such an early stage. He meant no such thing; WE have decided he did.

Oswald was firmly denying any involvement with the shooting of JFK and JD Tippet. He was trying to convince the media that the Dallas Police were badly mistaken; that was all. He had absolutely no idea at this stage who had seen him, who had identified him, who had witnessed what he had done, who saw him in the process of escaping both scenes and what the police had discovered about him; he was absolutely clueless. In his own narcistic mind he was outwitting the police.

     

The persistent quest among so many theorists to uncover a conspiracy has become an outlandish grotesque mission for 60 years. If there ever was a conspiracy many of these ‘investigators’ have firmly put paid to any hope of uncovering anything credible. Conspirators, if they existed could not have anticipated such luck to have so many crackpot detectives and authors on their trail.

The wooden stockade fence at the top of the grass bank overlooking Elm street has become a notable location for the so called ‘grassy knoll’ shooter but there was never a shred of evidence that such a gunman existed. The ‘grassy knoll’ would have actually been the worst possible place to set up a shoot. An obstructed view, people in the way, a shooter surrounded by potential witnesses and a target crossing from left to right. If someone had fired a high velocity rifle from that location and so close to witnesses it would have been absolutely deafening.

Try standing next to someone discharging such a weapon without wearing ear defenders; you’d know about it and you wouldn’t forget it.

People who were actually there at the time were questioned by investigators. Not one person present saw anyone with a firearm. They indeed heard the shots but they didn’t experience the acute assault on their hearing that would have occurred if a firer had been close by. Some witnesses allegedly reported seeing smoke in the vicinity. Conspiracy theorists suggest this is proof of a gunman. The type of rifle used to kill JFK used smokeless ammunition which has been available since the late 1800’s. Cigarette butts were found in the same location. Nothing odd about that. An smoker exhaling cigarette smoke would produce more than a fired high velocity rifle.

The vast majority of ear witnesses claimed the shots came from the Depository building. Some were convinced that gunfire came from other buildings, the overpass or the grassy knoll. That is hardly surprising in such close confines, buildings, structures, foliage, vehicles and people. Gunfire acoustics can be very confusing and complex. Sound can be greater facing the direction of projectile passage as opposed to being behind or alongside a firearm being discharged. In armed conflict, locating an expected adversary or enemy firing at you can initially be extremely difficult.

A prime example of this is when Las Vegas police arrived to deal with the Mandalay Bay Hotel shooter on the 1st October 2017. They initially had problems identifying the gunman’s firing position on the 32nd floor. He fired over 1000 rounds in 10 minutes, killing 60 people and wounding 413.

The stockade fence has been re-constructed and repaired many times and for good reason. Some mindless, stupid visitors steal portions of it as souvenirs as you can see in these images taken in September 2022. This just sums up the utter stupidity and shame of conspiracy which has established and continues to perpetrate a legend that never happened.

It was not a federal crime to kill the President of the United States but it was a federal crime to plan or initiate a conspiracy. Thus J. Edgar Hoover as head of the FBI insisted there had been a conspiracy simply because he wanted jurisdiction over the case. The authority initially simply fell to the state of Texas and The Dallas Police Department.

If we are also to believe that knowledgeable unlucky witnesses to an inside establishment plot were ‘silenced’ we had, according to the late Jim Marrs, a respected American author, 103 of them. This would have engaged hundreds of murderous Secret Service, FBI, CIA, corrupt police officers and contracted bounty hunters to stage vehicle collisions, hunting accidents, police shootouts, coronary’s, staged murders, fatal deceases and suicides. And for what?

What did these hapless ‘witnesses’ know that was so sensitive? Why haven’t the authors of all the conspiracy books and articles that got unwittingly close to the ‘truth’ met untimely deaths. Believing JFK was murdered by an organised conspiracy has over the decades become sadly fashionable.

In 1966, Roscoe Drummond, a respected American political journalist scripted an intelligent view about a JFK assassination cover-up theories in his syndicated column. He wrote:-

‘If there was a conspiracy to cover up the truth about the assassination, it would have to involve the Chief Justice, the Republican, Democratic, and non-party members of the Warren Commission, the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, the distinguished doctors of the armed services – and the White House – a conspiracy so multiple and complex that it would have fallen of its own weight’.

Four US Presidents have been assassinated, all by firearms. JFK was the last. Others like Ronald Reagan were shot and seriously wounded in 1981. Theodore Roosevelt running for office again in 1912 was shot in the chest but survived. Numerous other Presidents have been threatened and attacked, most commonly with firearms. US senators, politicians, security detail personnel and police officers have been killed, wounded and threatened by armed assassins and continue to be.

The one common link is the fact that all the perpetrators were witless, demented individuals, many of them suffering from psychiatric disorders and delusions of grandeur. All except Lee Harvey Oswald, in the minds of those who will not accept his cruel, twisted and lone random act. 

THE MURDER OF MARY PINCHOT MEYER

One of the the one hundred and three supposed insiders who were supposedly terminated by the inside organisation was Mary Pinchot Meyer, an American aristocrat. A Washington DC socialite, she was beautiful, educated, admired and well connected. She had been married to a war hero and senior CIA agent, Cord Meyer. They divorced in 1958. As a couple they were friends and neighbours of John and Jackie Kennedy in Georgetown, Washington before JFK was elected as President in January 1961. Mary Meyer had first met JFK in 1935 during their college days. They had both come from wealthy families who moved in the same high ranking social circles.

From 1962 she had a more intimate relationship with JFK and had remained close to him right up to his assassination in November 1963. By 1964 she lived and had an art studio in Georgetown in which she spent long periods of time producing her abstracts. She had a vivid world view and an unorthodox fearlessness not typical of a woman in this era. I have long studied this story and in September 2022 I visited Georgetown and the location of her murder.

Mary Meyer regularly walked alone along the Chesapeake and Ohio canal towpath for exercise and inspiration. In broad daylight on 12 October 1964, nearly a year after JFK’s assassination she was walking on the tree lined towpath. She was approached by somebody from behind and attacked. There was a violent struggle and she was shot twice and died at the scene.

Researching this murder in September 2022 I descended onto the canal towpath from the Key Bridge and headed west towards the location where Mary was attacked. I set out from exactly where she had started her final journey in October 1964. There was rather ironically a young lady ahead of me and I felt somewhat self-conscious, I’m sure there was no need to be but I couldn’t help it and kept my distance. She was engrossed in her cell phone. We both continued west along the towpath, about 50 metres apart. Eventually I reached the site of the murder; the young lady still walking ahead of me had passed it without a second glance.

On the day of her murder, Mary Meyer’s cries for help were heard by a young black tow truck driver and former soldier, Henry Wiggins and his colleague William Branch who were on the Canal Road bordering the other side of the canal recovering a vehicle. You can clearly see traffic on Canal Road in the image above. The scene and layout would have changed little since 1964.

Wiggins rushed across the road after hearing two gun shots and saw Mary Meyer’s assailant, a black male standing over her body. The police investigation measured this distance at just 125 feet. He couldn’t intervene and watched this person who at first looked directly at him and then just calmly walked into the tree line and down the far embankment disappearing from view. Wiggins and Branch jumped into their vehicle and drove back to the Esso service station near Key Bridge from where they had been despatched to call the police. This was just half a mile distance. Wiggins made the call; it was received in a district police HQ pressroom close to Georgetown University which was close by.

Lance Morrow, who I was lucky to establish contact with in November 2022 was at the time a 25 year old cub reporter on the Washington Star. He happened to be in that very pressroom and he heard the dispatcher task two homicide cars to the scene of Henry Wiggins reported shooting on the C&O canal towpath in Georgetown. The assistant city editor, Charles Puffenbarger sent the young Lance Morrow to look for and speak to the two witnesses. The keen young reporter set off and just minutes later found the two mechanics at the Esso gas station on Canal Road.

He urged them to show him what they had seen so the three of them set off back along Canal Road to a spot where they could just make out Mary Meyer’s body lying on the towpath. Lance Morrow described the wretched sight of Mary Meyer from where they stood looking like a pile of laundry. He also described how Henry Wiggins was the more assertive of the two and was willing and able to relay the detail. William Branch whilst reticent and somewhat fearful, corroborated Wiggins story.

Other narratives have William Branch remaining at the site overlooking the murder scene and Henry Wiggins returning to the Esso station alone to report what they saw. I don’t know the reason for that.

Lance Morrow was determined to reach her body and he knew there was a tunnel nearby that would give him access to the other side of the canal and the towpath. Leaving Wiggins and Branch and his car on the Canal Road he ran to the Foundry Tunnel entrance just a short distance away from where they stood. This access was just to the north of Canal Road. Emerging on the other side he turned right, scrambled up the wooded embankment and joined the canal path, he was now just 300 metres from the attack site. He reached Mary Meyer’s motionless body, she was lying on her right side.

At this stage nobody knew who this casually but elegantly dressed woman was. She was clearly quite beautiful. The police by now were closing on the scene from the direction of Georgetown to the east and the Chain Bridge and Fletchers Cove to the west. The killer had to still be within the narrow corridor between the canal and the Potomac river. It wasn’t long before a police officer approached and advised the young reporter to move away.

Lance Morrow described himself to me as a legman that day. A junior member of staff on the paper who was immediately available to get down on the canal and gather information. During that afternoon and after he had left the scene he phoned in details to the Washington Star’s rewrite man. His name did not appear on the Star’s stories about the murder. He did however complete what he describes as a follow up mood piece the next day; talking about his childhood in Georgetown and his familiarity with the location and that particular section of the C&O canal.

Lance Morrow has the distinction and perhaps the burden of being the first person to reach Mary Meyer lying dead at the side of the C&O canal in Georgetown on that bright October day in 1964. He would go on to enjoy a successful and distinguished career as a writer, author and essayist.

He is a former professor of journalism and has written some very poignant narratives about Mary Meyer. His latest book, ‘The Noise of Typewriters’ – Remembering Journalism was published in April 2023, it is an interesting and inspiring read. Chapter 26 describes that 1964 encounter.

A man fitting the assailant’s description as given by Henry Wiggins was found by police shortly afterwards in the wooded area next to the towpath. You can get an impression of this from the image above depicting the canal looking west. It was rather ironic that I was able to photograph this young African-American jogger with the young lady ahead of him at the very murder site. He had politely nodded towards me and smiled as he passed.

The African-American Henry Wiggins had described was found soaking wet and drunk, his trousers were torn and he had a injury to his hand. He gave the police a confused and disjointed reason for being there, insisting he had jumped into the canal to retrieve a fishing rod. He was arrested and taken into custody. He strongly denied being involved and insisted he was mistakenly identified. He had lost or had discarded his jacket and a cap which the police eventually found in the Potomac river. This was 25 year old Ray Crump, a poor labourer who already had a criminal record for drunkenness, petit larceny and shoplifting. By this time Henry Wiggins was with the police close to the scene and he immediately identified Ray Crump as being the person he saw standing over Mary Meyer.

Two days later a young army Lieutenant, William Mitchell approached the police. Mitchell was on an assignment at the Pentagon and enjoyed running. On the day of the murder he was running a route southeast on the canal path and remembered confronting both Mary Meyer and a young black male walking towards him. At the point he met Mary Meyer he estimated the black male was approximately 200 metres behind her. He was able to give a very accurate description of both of them. Mitchell at the time had absolutely no cause for concern and simply continued his run towards Georgetown.

Georgetown was an affluent and predominately white populated district of Washington DC. At a time in the USA when property gentrification of selected suburbs forced poorer families out and when racist attitudes were still very overt, Ray Crump would have been noticeable and perceived by some to be out of place. However, the wooded area next to the towpath was known to be occasioned by drunken derelicts. There was no doubting that a male black individual had been seen at the murder scene by Henry Wiggins and William Mitchell had described the same person behind Mary Meyer just prior to the attack. Both men accurately described what Crump was wearing including his jacket and cap which were found after he had strangely lost them.

Mary Meyer was initially grabbed from behind and there was a struggle; this is when Henry Wiggins heard her cry out for help. Her attacker then shot her in the head which while she fell to the ground, failed to immediately kill her. Mary Meyer continued to struggle until she was shot a second time in the back, the bullet severed her aorta which immediately killed her. Her killer has been described by some as a calculating professional, that being, those who believe she was not randomly attacked but assassinated by the establishment because of her links with JFK. On the contrary, the killer’s actions were the complete opposite.

Ray Crump spent eight months in custody before his eventual trial. His wife Helena left him and took their children to Martha Crump, his mother, when he was arrested. His defence attorney, Dovey Roundtree convinced the jury that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and they found him not guilty. There was always some discrepancy over Crump’s height. He was described by the witnesses as being taller than he actually was. This was considered to be a significant factor in his defence. Crump was wearing heeled shoes at the scene of the killing. The murder weapon was a .38 revolver and would have looked like the image below. The actual murder weapon was never found.

Despite the trial outcome Helena Crump never returned to her husband and she left the area. They were divorced in 1969. She must have had good reason. Ray Crump married Lois Taylor in 1971.

Of course, Mary Meyer’s lifestyle and connections prompted wide political motivated suspicions. However, no other attacker has ever been identified and her death has been officially concluded to be a sexually motivated attack. That is what her CIA ex-husband concluded. There is nothing whatsoever to connect her murder to her relationship with John F Kennedy, her social connections and history. The fact that her ex-husband deemed as such has just continued to stir speculation.

Ray Crump continued a life of crime. Often under the influence of alcohol he was extremely violent  and engaged in armed assault, attempted murder, arson and rape. He was in and out of prison for the rest of his life. Dovey Roundtree and those who supported Crump maintain that the experience and shock he faced after being arrested for the murder of Mary Meyer, (for which a court found him not guilty), drove him towards further crime. We call it PTSD now; poor Ray Crump. Others seemingly had a different perspective and viewpoint, including his first wife, Helena Crump.

Mary Meyer is now remembered at the site of her murder on the C&O towpath by a simple orange steel post that looks like a gas pipeline outlet marker. Her name is printed on a Dymo tape label. There had in the past been a white cross. Two miles away over the Potomac river in the Arlington National Cemetery lies John F Kennedy with other family members under an eternal flame.

In 2012, American author Peter Janney wrote ‘Mary’s Mosaic’. This was his researched interpretation of her murder and is actually very well written. He claims it was a CIA operation linked to the larger and already prosecuted CIA assassination of JFK. He is very convincing. His theory of how Mary Meyer was murdered however is not factual, it is pure fantasy.

Peter Janney has clearly never been part of any armed security operation. I find it interesting how real crime writers with no personal experience have the impertinence to imply or even insist that they understand and recognise such processes.

Peter Janney hounded William Mitchell who he is convinced was part of a CIA murder plot. Why would ‘agents’ within the state want Mary Meyer dead? Well according to Janney and his followers it is because they believed she was dangerously influencing Kennedy with her world views and after the publication of the Warren Commission report she would ‘reveal things’ that would embarrass the American administration and establishment and of course their ‘plot’ to kill JFK.

A far more impartial and professional reflection had already been written by the American writer, Nina Burleigh in 1998; her book is well worth a read, ‘A Very Private Woman’. Burleigh just mentions Mitchell in the context of his witness statement. He saw and met Mary Meyer on the tow path and what is believed to be Ray Crump behind her. That was all. Mitchell was a long way off when the murder took place. She later remarked,

‘It was perhaps her fearlessness that exposed her to a random sexually motivated attack instead of a politically linked slaying. It was her brave and unexpected fierce resistance at the scene that resulted in her cruel murder rather than some sinister and ultimately unknowable ridiculous conspiracy’.

Nina Burleigh records in her book that in the week after the murder a white cross appeared at the site of the murder. In addition someone had scrawled in French, ‘Mauvais Coup Mary’ in white paint on the Key Bridge. In the literal sense this translates to, ‘Bad Move….’ or ‘Bad Blow….’

Just 9 years after her murder the supernatural horror film, ‘The Exorcist’ was released in 1973. Written and directed by William Peter Blatty who went to Georgetown University in the 1950’s. Significant portions of this famous movie were filmed in Georgetown. The Exorcist steps where the character Father Damien Karras fell down and was killed descend from Prospect Street NW down towards Canal Road where this intersects with the Whitehouse Fwy NW. These actual steps are next to the site of the Esso gas station and parking lot where Wiggins and Branch set out from and retreated to in order to call the police after seeing Mary Meyer’s murder just over half a mile away. Exorcist III returned to Georgetown in 1990. In this version a young boy was murdered next to the Key bridge.

 

In October 2015 The Exorcist Steps became an official DC landmark and official tourist attraction with a plaque inset. Whatever the reason it is perhaps ironic and sad that the fictional ‘death’ of an actor in a horror film is commemorated in a far more honoured fashion than the nearby real life brutal murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer who played a significant role in American history. It’s a strange world.

Is Georgetown any different today? I don’t know the answer to that but there are still visual tensions. The image below is the Whitehurst Freeway bridge which is next to the main Key Bridge. Decades after Mary Meyer’s murder there is now contemporary graffiti adorning the same bridge abutments.

The stark image below is making reference to the Washington DC Police Narcotics Units. The C&O canal towpath hasn’t changed much and access to it is exactly how Mary Meyer would have remembered it. Joggers and walkers like William Mitchell and Mary Meyer are still commonplace.

In his Smithsonian Magazine feature on the death of Mary Meyer, Lance Morrow also describes his mother’s passing, Elsie Morrow, a woman from the same era and with a similar spirit as Mary Meyer but one who was able to enjoy a longer life.

‘On a drizzly morning as she had wished, my brothers and my sister and I brought her ashes—coarse, grainy, salt-and-pepper ashes, all that was left of a vivid life — to the bank of the Potomac above Great Falls and scattered them on the surface of the brown, swollen river. The ashes swirled off downstream toward Washington, and for a second I imagined them floating down by Georgetown, passing over a pistol in the mud’.

I am very grateful to Lance Morrow for his kind and very significant contribution and swift replies to my questions. His latest book, The Noise of Typewriters: Remembering Journalism, is now available. It is an excellent book within which he devotes a chapter where he recalls his involvement, thoughts and experience at the site of Mary Meyer’s murder in 1964.