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John Simkin

Mary Jo Kopechne

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In the thread of Marilyn Monroe:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=1008

Linda Powell provided a link to the website that provides extended extracts from Leo Damore’s book, Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquidick Cover-up (1988).

http://www.ytedk.com/intro.htm

It should be pointed out that the website was established by the Republican Party during the 2000 presidential election and was an attempt to undermine the political campaign of the Democratic Party. However, the website includes some interesting information concerning the case. For example, this is what Detective Bernie Flynn thought when he wrote his report on 18th July, 1969:

I figure, we've got a drunk driver, Ted Kennedy. He's with this girl, and he has it in his mind to go down to the beach and make love to her. He's probably driving too fast and he misses the curve and goes into Cemetery Road. He's backing up when he sees this guy in uniform coming toward him. That's panic for the average driver who's been drinking; but here's a United States Senator about to get tagged for driving under. He doesn't want to get caught with a girl in his car, on a deserted road late at night, with no license and driving drunk on top of it. In his mind, the most important thing is to get away from the situation.

He doesn't wait around. He takes off down the road. He's probably looking in the rear-view mirror to see if the cop is following him. He doesn't even see the bridge and bingo! He goes off. He gets out of the car; she doesn't. The poor son of a bitch doesn't know what to do. He's thinking: "I want to get back to my house, to my friends" - which is a common reaction.

There are houses on Dike Road he could have gone to report the accident, but he doesn't want to. Because it's the same situation he was trying to get away from at the corner - which turned out to be minor compared to what happened later. Now there's been an accident; and the girl's probably dead. All the more reason not to go banging on somebody's door in the middle of the night and admit what he was doing. He doesn't want to reveal himself.

This accounts fits most of the facts. However, there are other facts that does not fit the story.

For example, there is no evidence that Kennedy had been drinking heavily that night. If he had, this would have been cause for concern. This had been a problem in the past. This is why he was also chauffer driven. His resident chauffer, John Crimmins, was with him at the party. If Kennedy wanted sex with Mary Jo Kopechne, why did not stay in the cottage. Why did he need to drive away from the ferry? Why did he not get Cummins to take him to his hotel?

There is also other information that does not make sense. Why did Kennedy risk his life by swimming to Edgartown after the accident? Why did nobody notice a wet Kennedy entering the hotel? Why did Kennedy seem so cool and untroubled the next morning? If he had been involved in the accident he would have known his political career was all but over. Yet he is reported being light-hearted and making jokes on the morning ferry. It is only after meetings that morning that Kennedy finally reports the accident. Is it possible that Kennedy was not in the car when Mary Jo Kopechne died. That he only found out about her death that morning.

In his book Leo Damore does not look into the background of Mary Jo Kopechne. He just considers her as one of the Kennedy’s girls who unfortunately died in an accident. He does not know (or does not want to know) that Kopechne had several links to the JFK assassination. In 1963 Kopechne worked as a secretary for George Smathers. At this time she shared an apartment with Nancy Carole Tyler, who worked for Bobby Baker.

Smathers and Baker (as well as Fred Black) were involved in the Serve-U Corporation scandal that threatened the political career of LBJ. Kopechne and Tyler would both have known what was going on in November, 1963. They were both involved in leaking information about JFK’s plan to drop LBJ for the next election. It is probably no coincidence that Kopechne became Robert Kennedy’s secretary after the assassination. Remember, it was Smathers who leaked stories that the Kennedy brothers were involved with Marilyn Monroe only days before she was found murdered.

Nancy Carole Tyler died in a plane crash in 1965. Kopechne died four years later.

Is it possible that Kennedy was ordered to lure Kopechne to Chappaquidick. He thought the plan was just to frighten her into not talking. Kennedy was taken by boat across to Edgartown that night. It was only when he arrived back the next morning did he realised that she had died in his car. No one would have believed his story (he would have been unlikely to have wanted to have told the truth anyway). His only chance was to come up with the unlikely story of an accident. The organizers of the murder knew that even if he got away with it, his chances of ever becoming president was over. What is more, it could be used against the Democratic Party for evermore (one of the reasons for the website).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkopechne.htm

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John – glad you found the Kopechne link of interest and I agree with your observations about things seeming somewhat awry.

Dredging my memory banks (which yet again fail to provide precise answers!) I recall a TV documentary shown in the UK some years back – I guess perhaps 15 years or so – which is the only one I've ever seen that looked into the anomalies surrounding EMK's version of the Chappaquidick incident. In particular I recall a detective who said he'd interviewed an elderly couple who were staying at the same hotel as EMK and were at breakfast (on the terrace I think) the morning after the incident. They recalled seeing EMK coming out to the tables, with a relaxed air about him and being intercepted by two men who hastily informed him of something which was not overhead by the couple. They told the detective that EMK's reaction was one of utter astonishment and they felt he was being informed of something of a serious nature, whereupon he quickly left accompanied by the men. The detective who took their statement was certain it was genuine.

Of course, EMK might have staged the incident, but I wonder if anyone else recalls that documentary, or has heard of this couple's statement from another source?

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Hello,

I am a recent recruit from Rich Della Rosa's JFK Research Forum in the U.S.

Linda,

The documentary you are probably speaking of is a 1994 documentary of a BBC probe titled ( in the U.S.) "Investigative Reports" with Bill Kurtis. The couple in question are the Ross Richards. Leo Damore in "Senatorial Priviledge" describes their encounter in detail with EMK the morning after the "accident".

In my opinion, at least at this point in time, EMK believed that his cousin, Joe Gargan, and another lawyer friend at the cottage that night (Markham) were going to "fix it" for him...somehow...after the car plunged off the bridge at Chappy. He was in denial and therefore shocked when they told him the next morning that no police report or any other arrangements had been made. The three took the ferry over to Chappy to try to contact Burke Marshall, a good lawyer friend from the JFK days, by phone as there was more privacy than at the hotel.

While waiting for word from Marshall, news came that MJK's body had been found in his car and, so, the three immediately got on the ferry (where the mood was more serious than on the trip over) and upon reaching Edgartown, EMK, with the others trailing, strode to the police station where he gave a report.

John,

Interesting that your take is that EMK was sent to take care of MJK. I believe that Mary Jo was the lure who brought Ted out of the cottage to be the third victim of political assassination in the Kennedy quest for the White House. The fact that she worked for Senator Smathers, who let her go work for RFK, after he pretended to be a good friend to JFK, needs more researching. Many researchers believe the accident at the Chappaquiddick bridge was deliberately planned to keep EMK out of the Oval office.

I'll be interested to read any further posts on this site as Chappaquiddick is my main area of research regarding the JFK assasination in regards to connecting the subsequent tragedies of his brothers.

Nanci Blom

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Nancy – thank you for your reply. Your suggestion that Mary Jo's death was used to keep EMK out of the Presidential race is very interesting and I recall that there was similar speculation at the time of the tragedy. Has there been much research into this angle?

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I'll be interested to read any further posts on this site as Chappaquiddick is my main area of research regarding the JFK assasination in regards to  connecting the subsequent tragedies of his brothers.

Nanci Blom

Nanci...

Watching an NBC Dateline show a couple of nights ago about ANTHONY PELLICANO, a Hollywood private detective (who is now in prison), I recalled that I remembered him in connection with both Chappaquiddik and the OJ Simpson cases, and perhaps another (Monroe? RFK?)

Do you recall Pellicano coming up in any of your research?

Jack

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One theory I recall reading is that Ted stopped the car and got out after spotting the law officer behind them. He told Mary Jo to drive on ahead and he would join her on foot after hiding from the officer. Mary Jo took off and, not even aware of the bridge, drove straight off of it.

I find it hard to believe that her death was deliberate murder. How could someone possibly plan for the car to go off the bridge, either with Ted and her both in it or Mary Jo in it alone? Is there any evidence that someone moved the bridge? And didn't Ted take a wrong turn in the first place, else we never would have heard of this bridge?

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I am convinced there is a close link between Chappaquiddick and the assassination of JFK. I suspect that they were both aspects of a conspiracy to keep the Kennedys from power.

Does anyone know if any figures linked to the assassination of JFK were in the area when Mary Jo Kopechne was killed?

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Does anyone know if any figures linked to the assassination of JFK were in the area when Mary Jo Kopechne was killed?

Rumor has it that E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis and Virgilio Gonzalez were on Martha's Vineyard at the time. Let me stress that I have nothing to back that up and should be treated as such.

James

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I am convinced there is a close link between Chappaquiddick and the assassination of JFK. I suspect that they were both aspects of a conspiracy to keep the Kennedys from power.

Can you offer a scenario by which conspirators arranged, to begin with, for Ted to take Mary Jo from the party in his car, and then, secondly, to drive the car off the bridge?

Unless Ted himself intended to take her off and murder her, how did conspirators do this?

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Can you offer a scenario by which conspirators arranged, to begin with, for Ted to take Mary Jo from the party in his car, and then, secondly, to drive the car off the bridge?

Unless Ted himself intended to take her off and murder her, how did conspirators do this?

Mary Jo Kopechne worked as a secretary for George Smathers in 1963. She also shared an apartment with Nancy Carole Tyler, who worked for Bobby Baker. As a result, I suspect she had important information about the assassination of JFK. Like Grant Stockdale (Smathers’ business partner) she probably passed this information onto Robert and Edward Kennedy. However, for some reason, Robert did not do anything with this information and publicly claimed he agreed with the Warren Commission. Maybe the Kennedys told Mary Jo that they were biding their time. As I have said before, I think that the real motive was that they were trying to protect the reputation of the Kennedys. Robert no doubt thought that if he remained quiet he would become president in 1968. After gaining power he would then be in a safe position to reveal details about Operation Freedom. What we do know is that Mary Jo becomes Robert’s secretary after the assassination of JFK. Maybe this was done to keep an eye on her. He does not want her to talk about what she knows.

Robert Kennedy looks like he is going to become president until he is murdered on 4th June, 1968. Mary Jo now sees no reason for holding back this information. Edward Kennedy disagrees. Why? What do these people have on the Kennedys? Is Edward still playing the long game? He still believe the best way of becoming president is not to reveal this information. Does he tell the people responsible for the assassinations that he has taken out an insurance policy. That all the information the Kennedys have will be published if he is also murdered. Maybe a deal is done. Edward Kennedy will be allowed to become president in 1972 if he keeps quiet about what he knows about the deaths of his two brothers. In this way the reputations of his two brothers will remain untarnished.

If that is the case, Mary Jo has to be kept from talking. Edward is told to arrange a meeting with Mary Jo. Edward believes the idea is for Mary Jo to be frightened into not talking. However, the conspirators see it as an opportunity to prevent Edward from ever becoming president.

Edward leaves the party with Mary Jo and takes her by car to a place where she is to be “frightened”. Edward is then taken by boat to his hotel in Edgartown.

The conspirators then murder Mary Jo (drugged and then drowned). The car is driven at speed towards Dyke Road Bridge to provide the tyre markings that will implicate Kennedy in her death. Mary Jo is then placed in the passenger seat and the car which is then pushed off the Dyke Road Bridge.

This helps to explain Edward’s behaviour following the accident. In fact he does not know that Mary Jo is dead until he arrives back on Chappaquiddick Island the next morning. Edward Kennedy is allowed to live but will now never become president. Edward cannot tell now what he knows without disclosing his own role in the cover-up of JFK’s assassination and the death of Mary Jo. The best option for Edward is to go along with the story that he was driving the car.

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John,

That's an interesting scenario. Sounds plausible.

I did a Google search and found a similar scenario, different in details (e.g. Ted and Mary Jo are ambushed), in Chapter 7 of the online book The Taking of America. The chapter summarizes a book by Cutler called You the Jury, self-published in 1974.

http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/ToA/ToAchp7.html

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When I was researching the Mary Pinchot Meyer case I once again came across the name Leo Damore. Apparently, why researching his book, Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up, he came across information that persuaded him to research the Meyer case. However, Damore committed suicide in 1995 and the book was never published.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAdamore.htm

Although I had read extracts of Senatorial Privilege on the web I thought it would be a good idea to get a copy of the book. I could then find out if there was any links with what he found out about Chappaquiddick and the assassination of JFK. If he did, there is no evidence of this in the book. I know that he came under intense pressure from the Kennedy family not to publish the book. (Random House cancelled the contract for the book although it had paid Damore a generous advance). In fact, the book was not published until 14 years after he started work on the project. I suspect he may have been forced to remove some parts of the book before it was published. Although a detailed account of the cover-up, it does not tell us anything we did not know. Damore’s main scoop is to get Kennedy’s cousin, Joe Gargan, to tell his story. Gargan and Paul Markham were the two friends who were told about the accident and tried to rescue Mary Jo Kopechne. Gargan’s story is not very different from the one he told during the inquest. The main difference is that Gargan argues that the reason for the delay in reporting the incident was that Edward Kennedy was trying to persuade someone else to take the blame for driving the car. Gargan and Markham refused. Kennedy then wanted to claim that Mary Jo was driving. This idea was also rejected. At this point, Kennedy tells the two men that he planned to go back to Edgartown to report the accident. He then dived into the water to swim back to his hotel (this was a very risky thing to do and Kennedy claims he nearly drowned during the swim. As there was a public phone close by, it seems a very strange thing to have done.

Damore’s main thesis is that Kennedy was drunk and therefore not willing to report the accident until the next morning. However, he must have been aware, that not reporting the accident was a far more serious offence. Damore does not explain this nor several other items of evidence that undermines Gargan’s story. I think Damore is wrong to believe Gargan’s story. I suspect this was more about Gargan covering-up his own behaviour.

I will post later what I think might have happened at Chappaquiddick.

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When I was researching the Mary Pinchot Meyer case I once again came across the name Leo Damore. Apparently, why researching his book, Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up, he came across information that persuaded him to research the Meyer case. However, Damore committed suicide in 1995 and the book was never published.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAdamore.htm

Although I had read extracts of  Senatorial Privilege on the web I thought it would be a good idea to get a copy of the book. I could then find out if there was any links with what he found out about Chappaquiddick and the assassination of JFK. If he did, there is no evidence of this in the book. I know that he came under intense pressure from the Kennedy family not to publish the book. (Random House cancelled the contract for the book although it had paid Damore a generous advance). In fact, the book was not published until 14 years after he started work on the project. I suspect he may have been forced to remove some parts of the book before it was published. Although a detailed account of the cover-up, it does not tell us anything we did not know. Damore’s main scoop is to get Kennedy’s cousin, Joe Gargan, to tell his story. Gargan and Paul Markham were the two friends who were told about the accident and tried to rescue Mary Jo Kopechne. Gargan’s story is not very different from the one he told during the inquest. The main difference is that Gargan argues that the reason for the delay in reporting the incident was that Edward Kennedy was trying to persuade someone else to take the blame for driving the car. Gargan and Markham refused. Kennedy then wanted to claim that Mary Jo was driving. This idea was also rejected. At this point, Kennedy tells the two men that he planned to go back to Edgartown to report the accident. He then dived into the water to swim back to his hotel (this was a very risky thing to do and Kennedy claims he nearly drowned during the swim. As there was a public phone close by, it seems a very strange thing to have done.

Damore’s main thesis is that Kennedy was drunk and therefore not willing to report the accident until the next morning. However, he must have been aware, that not reporting the accident was a far more serious offence. Damore does not explain this nor several other items of evidence that undermines Gargan’s story. I think Damore is wrong to believe Gargan’s story. I suspect this was more about Gargan covering-up his own behaviour.

I will post later what I think might have happened at Chappaquiddick.

I cover the EMK tragedy in my book "Questions of Controversy" (2001) University of Sunderland Press). There is no credible evidence whatsoever that the incident was teid to some kind of conspiracy.

Mel Ayton

www.melayton.co.uk

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Mr Ayton,

you must remember it does not take evidence for many of us to find a conspiracy!

Fellow members: this is self-deprecating humour addressed at myself as much as anyone. We may not agree on possible scenarios but I am as "conspiracy-minded" as most of you and I enjoy it when someone such as Ron or Pat points out the errors in our thinking.

We must also remember, however, that famous dictum that absence of evidence of a conspiracy is not evidence of absence of a conspiracy!

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I cover the EMK tragedy in my book "Questions of Controversy" (2001) University of Sunderland Press). There is no credible evidence whatsoever that the incident was teid to some kind of conspiracy.

We shall then have an interesting discussion about Chappaquiddick.

First of all I want to establish the agreed facts about the case.

Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne left the Lawrence Cottage at around 11.15 p.m. on 18th July, 1969. Kennedy claimed that he was giving her a lift back to her hotel. The last ferry was at 12.00. The party only had two cars. The six women at the party had been told that they would be taken back to their hotels via that ferry.

Although he had been on the island many times Kennedy took the wrong turning. Locals claimed this was almost impossible to do. To make this wrong turn at this point the driver had to ignore: (1) A directional arrow of luminized glass pointing to the left; (2) The banking of the pavement to accommodate the sharp curve; (3) The white line down the centre of the road. (4) The fact that he was now driving on an unpaved road.

According to Kennedy he had the accident on Dike Bridge at 11.30. He made several attempts to rescue Mary Jo. Although there were three houses with lights on close to where the accident happened. Kennedy walked back to Lawrence Cottage. This was a 1.2 mile walk that took approximately 23 minutes. The route involved passing the Chappaquiddick Fire Station. The station was unlocked and included an alarm. The Fire Captain (Foster Silva) lived close by and would have been there within 3 minutes. According to Silva once sounded “half the people living on the island would have turned up within 15 minutes”.

Kennedy claimed he got back at the cottage at 12.20 a.m. He got the time from the Valiant car while he sat in the back seat discussing the problem with his two friends, Joe Gargan and Paul Markham. This was a lie. It was later discovered that the Valiant car (rented for the weekend) did not have a clock.

According to their testimony Kennedy, Gargan and Markham then went back to the scene of the accident and tried to get Mary Jo out of the car. After 45 minutes they accepted defeat. Kennedy, told the men he was going to report the accident once back in Edgartown. He then swam back as he thought the last ferry had gone. This was a risky thing to do and as Kennedy admitted afterwards, he nearly drowned getting to his hotel.

Gargan and Markham claimed they got back to the cottage at around 2.15 a.m. If so, this leaves an hour accounted for. This point was not explored at the inquest.

Jared Grant operated the Chappaquiddick Ferry. The last ferry usually went at midnight. However, that night his last run was 12.45 a.m. He did not actually close the ferry until 1.20 a.m. He later testified that he saw several boats “running back and forth” between the island and Edgartown. During this period he was never approached by Kennedy, Gargan or Markham.

That night Kennedy spoke to the room clerk at the Shiretown Inn at 2.30 a.m. According to Gargan this was to establish an alibi. At this stage he intended to claim he had not been driving the car.

Records show that Kennedy did not make any phone calls from the hotel. All his close political advisers confirm they did not receive calls from Kennedy that night. If they had, they would have told him to report the accident straight away. Kennedy made his first call (to Helga Wagner) a 8 a.m. the next morning.

Two friends of Kennedy, Ross Richards and Stan Moore met with him in his hotel just before 8 o’clock. They reported that he appeared to be acting in a relaxed way and did not appear to be under any stress. Soon afterwards, Paul Markham and Joe Gargan arrived at the hotel. According to Richards they were “soaking wet”. It was while talking to Markham and Gargan that Kennedy became visibly upset.

Lieutenant George Killen, who interviewed all those people who had contact with Kennedy that morning in the hotel, became convinced that it was at this stage that Kennedy first discovered that Mary Jo Kopechne was dead. Richards also agreed with this analysis.

Kennedy returned to the island on the ferry at 9.50 the following morning. It was only once back on the island that he reported the accident.

John Farrar, a scuba diver, got the Mary Jo’s body out of the car. He believed that she found an air-pocket in the car and probably lived for about an hour. This view was supported by the medical examination of the body. The doctor claimed she had died of suffocation rather than from drowning.

Farrar found it difficult to believe that Kennedy would have been able to get out of the car once it went into the water. Others at the crime scene took a similar view. Lieutenant Bernie Flynn said: “Ted Kennedy wasn’t in the car when it went off the bridge. He would never have gotten out alive.”

There is one major problem with these timings. At about 12.45 Kennedy’s stationary car was seen at the intersection on Dike Road near the bridge by Christopher ‘Huck’ Look, deputy sheriff and part-time police officer. Look claims that a man was driving and that two other people were in the car. Look approached the car on foot but when the driver saw his police uniform the car then sped off down Dike Road. The car had a Massachusetts registration letter L. It also had a 7 at the beginning and at the end. Only eight other cars of this type had this number plate. They were all later checked out. Kennedy’s car was the only one with that number plate that was on the island that night.

The question is? What really happened that night?

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