As the world remembers President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination, a number of crazy conspiracy theories persist about the circumstances surrounding his death.
There are many reasonable lines of inquiry about who shot Kennedy, as well as how the deed was carried out and why, but a number of wackier ideas simply refuse to go away.
The deeply flawed investigations into Kennedy’s death and the Warren Commission’s finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing the president have left many questions unanswered, resulting in an entire subculture of conspiracy theorists who continue to believe that there is more to his death than the public has been told.
But many of the ideas about JFK’s assassination that continue to attract attention and adherents today are pretty off-the-wall, and below are some of the most outlandish theories:
1. Jackie Kennedy shot her husband: The unthinkable idea that the first lady pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Kennedy is a shocking proposition, to say the least. But a small number of conspiracy-minded individuals contend that after conducting extensive research, they have come to the conclusion that the evidence points to her being the assassin behind one of the darkest days in American history.
This theory, like so many others, relies on the famous Zapruder film, which was taken by civilian onlooker Abraham Zapruder as the Kennedy motorcade made its way through the streets of Dallas. It maintains that due to the ballistics conclusions that can be drawn from the Zapruder film, Jackie Kennedy is the only person who could have carried out the murder.
“After studying the Zapruder film for nearly 20 years, I've come to the conclusion that the only person verified to have the access and angle to have delivered the fatal gunshot to JFK was Jackie Kennedy,” an anonymous theorist wrote on the website AboveTopSecret.com in a post representative of the crux of this conspiracy. “The telltale sign is right before his head explodes, where she moves forward with something in her hand. Think about it. Who had the most to gain?”
2. The Roswell Incident connection: In 1947, an object crash-landed outside of Roswell, N.M., that the U.S. government claims was a military surveillance balloon but which many believe was actually an alien UFO piloted by extraterrestrial life forms. The incident has long been the subject of much speculation, and it has even been connected to the JFK assassination, as some conspiracy-minded folk believe that Kennedy discovered the “truth” that an alien spacecraft was found at Roswell, and was killed by the government for knowing too much.
According to an article by conspiracy theorist Doug Yurchey posted on World-Mysteries.com, that was exactly what happened: He maintains that once the “real Controllers of the World” found out that Kennedy knew about the aliens “found” in Roswell, “A Big Decision had to be made by the real Controllers of the World; the Secret World Government: Do we let the public in on the lies, secret bases and the existence of the grey aliens - or, do we kill Kennedy and continue lying to the world by covering up the alien problem? It was no contest. The King of Camelot, the head of American Royalty, a beloved icon...had to go!”
3. Joe DiMaggio was behind JFK’s death: The Yankee Clipper was perhaps the most admired baseball player of his time, and certainly one of the greatest to ever swing a bat. But some conspiracy theorists believe that Joltin’ Joe was so obsessed with the idea that the Kennedys had his ex-wife Marilyn Monroe killed that he had a hitman or men kill the president out of revenge. DiMaggio’s lawyer and longtime friend Morris Engelberg wrote that DiMaggio really did believe that the Kennedy family decided Monroe had to be murdered because she knew too much about Camelot’s dark side.
"They murdered the one person I loved," DiMaggio told Engelberg, according to his book “DiMaggio: Setting the Record Straight.”
But the idea that DiMaggio was behind Kennedy’s death takes that fact one chilling step further. Adherents of this conspiracy theory contend that DiMaggio hired Oswald to carry out the assassination, as a writer for the blog “The Serious Tip” wrote:
“So after a year and half of plotting and planning, DiMaggio decided to have Kennedy killed in Dallas in November, 1963. For DiMaggio, Dallas was the perfect spot. It was far away enough from New York or DiMaggio's home city of San Francisco to cause heat. All DiMaggio needed was a patsy, someone to take the shot.”
4. Tonya Harding killed Kennedy: This theory is so outlandish it’s almost comical, but Robert Urbanek, the man behind TonyaHardingShotJFK.com, seems to actually believe that the infamous figure skater linked to a 1994 attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan is behind the killing of JFK.
Tonya Harding was born in 1970, so clearly she couldn’t have actually killed Kennedy herself, but Urbanek offers a wild theory suggesting that “Oswald and Kennedy returned in this life as Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Both Tonya Harding and Lee Harvey Oswald have the letters ‘Har’ in their names. Both victims were Irish Catholics from Massachusetts whose last names began with the letters ‘Ke’: John F. Kennedy and Nancy Kerrigan, and both were attacked in cities beginning with the letter ‘D’: Dallas and Detroit.” Urbanek goes on to draw comparisons between the two pairs’ looks and more in his odd theory about how Kennedy was killed.
5. The driver killed him: This one is almost as silly, but there’s a small contingent of people who believe that the president was shot by Bill Greer, the man who was driving the Kennedys, Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife Nellie, and Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman through the streets of Dallas. In the Zapruder film of the assassination, there is a frame that some theorists believe depicts Greer turning around and shooting the president in the head. But even a cursory analysis of the video evidence appears to thoroughly debunk the Greer as assassin story line, though some people believe that the film was edited, perhaps by the CIA, to conceal the truth.
6. Storm drain shooter theory: Infamous New York Mafia boss Tony Gambino has proffered his own conspiracy theory about the assassination, which has taken on a life of its own as one of the more popular ideas about how JFK was killed. He maintains that a storm drain in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza provided the perfect place for a gunman to shoot the president and then get away before anyone knew what happened, and goes so far as to specifically finger Mafia-linked figures Frank Sturgiss and Jimmy Rosselli as being behind the attack.
"I was there when he was shot and I know for a fact Rosselli was in the storm drain doing the shooting and Frank Sturgiss was also part of the hit team," Gambino said on Liberty Radio in 2007. "The same group of guys we have talked about in the Vatican and U.S. government gave the orders and asked the Mafia families for help in taking down Kennedy."
7. Sam Giancana ordered the assassination: Gambino, Sturgiss and Rosselli are not the only Mafia figures who have been implicated in Kennedy’s killing by conspiracy theorists. One persistent theory suggests that Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana commissioned a hit on Kennedy for a number of possible reasons. Some people believe that it was payback for Kennedy and his brother Robert’s anti-organized-crime efforts.
Others have floated the idea that because Giancana and the president reportedly shared a mistress, Giancana did it in order to eliminate his romantic competitor. No matter what his possible motive for killing the president may have been, Giancana’s name is not going away as a suspect in the case for some top conspiracy theorists.