During the half century since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, you may have heard about a few conspiracy theories.
Decades of investigations, hearings, documents, records, books and interviews have failed to satisfy conspiracy theorists with a definitive answer to the question: Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone when he shot the president?
At one time or another, doubters of the lone-gunman theory “have accused 42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people of being involved in the assassination,” said author Vincent Bugliosi.
That’s a lot of paranoia.
So, when reporters, producers, or amateur historians are looking to check out the latest JFK conspiracy theory, they call Dave Perry. “People think I’m an anti-conspiracy guy,” Perry said recently at his Dallas-area home.
But there’s one theory that he’s not ruling out. More on that in a minute.
Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists, Perry said, come in all degrees of interest and levels of obsession. They may believe that the government was behind the 9/11 attacks or that the moon landings were fake. Those folks comprise the “off the wall” crowd. The others, he says, read the books, watch the documentaries and come to less extreme conclusions.
Ahead of today’s 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, a flood of books about the tragedy have been re-released, along with the publication of new books examining various conspiracies. The king of Kennedy conspiracy films, Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” has also been re-released on disc.
And Perry, a 70-year-old retired former insurance claims adjuster from Massachusetts, has been digging through JFK assassination records since 1976 to address those skeptics.
Doubters ask him to check out the odd stories that pop up: somebody claimed to be the Grassy Knoll shooter. Nope, he wasn’t. Perry says he located and verified the authenticity of Oswald’s long-lost wedding ring.
Perry guesses he spends a “couple hundred hours” each October and November doing research and consulting. After all that, you can imagine he’s heard a lot of theories.
Some conspiracy theorists believe “the oil people” may have organized a hit on the president; others suspect “people who didn’t like the way Kennedy handled civil rights.”
Perry shared five conspiracy theories he believes rank among the most popular:
- “LBJ had it done.”
Perry has shot this one down. “It’s based primarily on statements made by Madeleine Brown,” who Perry described as a “crackpot.” Brown—who died in 2002—claimed to have had an affair with Johnson. She also claimed that LBJ had attended a party with then former Vice President Richard Nixon, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and others the night before the attack. According to Perry, Brown said LBJ whispered into her ear, “After tomorrow, those Kennedys will never embarrass me again. That’s no threat. That’s a promise.”
“That’s absolutely not true,” said Perry, who said his research proved LBJ couldn’t have been at the alleged party that night, debunking Brown’s story.
- The “military industrial complex” did it.
Nope. That doesn’t wash either, said Perry. “The claim is that Kennedy was going to pull (American) troops out of Vietnam (and that) the military wanted to pour more people into Vietnam. That’s technically not correct. He talked about trying to resolve the situation, but he never made a claim that he was going to pull out of there.”