It’s been over 53 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but most Americans still have at least a mild obsession with JFK and his murder.
Whether you’re a conspiracy theorist or not, it’s hard to deny that the details of that fateful day in 1963 are a bit suspicious — and the traumatic event has given rise to rumors pointing fingers at everyone from the mob to the Russians.
But even if you consider yourself pretty well studied when it comes to JFK’s assassination, there are a few speculations about what happened that might still surprise you. We’re looking back at our top 10 most interesting theories. What do you believe?
1. LBJ’s involvement
Multiple books have been written that point the finger at Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Though it was determined Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, theorists point out that LBJ had the opportunity. Kennedy was on Johnson’s home turf (if you’ll remember, Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas), and Johnson controlled many of the trip details.
This theory further stipulates that once Johnson took the presidency, he could easily control much regarding the assassination investigation.
2. The Magic Bullet Theory
A single bullet was discovered in the vehicle after Kennedy was shot. It’s called the Magic Bullet because it had very little distortion considering the route it had to take to cause the described damage. The bullet transversed through Kennedy’s body then through Gov. John Connally’s chest and wrist and finally dropped in the limousine. If you fire a bullet out of a gun and it hits a body or a car, it will distort. There is no way a bullet like this could have ended up in the car with Kennedy without deformation. Yet this bullet was found with its copper plating still intact and very little distortion.
This theory proposes someone fired the bullet from Oswald’s gun and then planted it in the car so that it would match the gun and implicate Oswald in the murder.
3. Bystanders smelled gunpowder
Many bystanders on the street that day reported smelling gunpowder following JFK’s assassination. This doesn’t make sense since Oswald apparently shot the president from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building.
4. The driver shot Kennedy
William Greer was the secret service agent behind the wheel on the day Kennedy was assassinated. There are those who believe Greer can actually be seen in the video footage from that day, pulling a weapon and turning around to shoot the president.
Advocates of this theory claim Greer was actually working for the CIA against Kennedy. It had been rumored that Kennedy planned to disband the CIA because he was unhappy with its actions. If this theory is true then it may just be the best sleight of hand trick in history.
5. Officer Tippit saw something suspicious
Oswald killed Officer Tippit about 45 minutes after allegedly killing President Kennedy. According to the investigation, Tippit was on the lookout for someone matching Oswald’s description. When he got out of his patrol car to speak with Oswald, Oswald shot him in the chest three times. Multiple witnesses picked Oswald out as the killer from a photo lineup. Still, others claim the official word on Tippit’s shooting is not reality and that Tippit was actually killed as part of a larger plot. He was killed, not because Oswald was crazed, but because Tippit saw something that could have compromised the conspiracy.
6. Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis to protect herself and her children
Jackie O, as she became known, reportedly said, “If they’re killing Kennedys, then my children are targets… I want to get out of this country.” Marrying billionaire Aristotle Onassis afforded her an easy way out. Onassis had a private island in Greece.
There are many theories about what secrets Jackie Kennedy took to her grave, namely who was really behind her husband’s assassination. If she was scared for her children enough to move them out of the U.S., then she was scared enough never to talk about the secrets she knew.
7. Three tramps arrested at the railway
Three men were arrested near the Texas School Book Depository on the same day Kennedy was shot. These three men have been identified as homeless passersby, who were arrested from a boxcar at the railway yard. Still, suspicions have risen throughout the years. Theorists point out how clean-shaven and and well-dressed the men were for being homeless. Further fueling rumors, Dallas police claimed to have lost the men’s arrest records, their fingerprints and mugshots.
It’s imagined that if these men were involved, they were undercover members of the CIA involved in the assassination. Following JFK’s death, they were arrested as a way of easy extraction from the scene.
8. Forensic tests were never done on the limousine
According to theorists, a forensic investigation was never conducted on the limousine Kennedy was riding in when he was shot. The car was refurbished following Kennedy’s assassination, which, many point out, erased any additional clues that could have been garnered from the vehicle. The car looks so different than it did when Kennedy was shot, some theorists even question if it’s the actual vehicle or just a decoy.
9. Secret Service agent George Hickey shot the president
This was the theory proposed by Colin McLaren in his book JFK: The Smoking Gun and is based a lot on ballistic evidence, specifically the conflicting performance of the bullets. McLaren thinks Hickey was inexperienced with the gun he was holding during the motorcade. When Oswald fire three shots, Hickey panicked, fired and accidentally shot the president. The coverup occurred to spare the U.S. the embarrassment in front of other nations at the height of The Cold War era. This theory also serves to explain why many bystanders reported smelling gunpowder following the shooting (see No. 3).
10. Politicians don’t speak up
Nearly two-thirds of Americans today believe there was some sort of conspiracy behind President Kennedy’s death, yet, politicians and investigators rarely, if ever, speak about the event. Why? Is it because they simply believe the conspiracies aren’t true and that Oswald was the sole perpetrator? Or are they afraid, like Robert F. Kennedy and Jackie O., of suffering the same fate as JFK?
Which JFK assassination theories do you support?
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.