John F. Kennedy’s most notorious sex scandal and questions over how his lover died have reemerged now that their affair has became the focus of a new book, JFK and Mary Meyer: A Love Story.
The president had a two-year relationship with Mary Pinochet Meyer and was even said to be planning to divorce his wife Jackie to start a new life with the mistress before he was assassinated in Texas in November 1963.
Just 11 months later, Pinochet Meyer, a socialite, was gunned down in broad daylight as she walked along Washington, D.C's historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal on October 12,1964.
The former wife of prominent CIA official Cord Meyer has long been rumored to have been killed because she knew too much about the spy agency's involvement in the president's assassination.
Cops said the slaying was a random act of street violence. They pinned the crime on Ray Crump Jr., a 25-year-old black African-American man, but the evidence against him was flimsy. He stood trial in July 1965 and was found innocent.
"It was strange how the police and newspapers rushed to judgment about who did it," said a friend of Pinochet Meyer.
Many thought then — and still think today — that Pinochet Meyer's murder was a professional hit ordered to keep her lips sealed forever.
Clues to who killed Pinochet Meyer and for what motive were apparently written in her secret diary.
Her brother-in-law, Bradlee, recalled that when he and his wife went to Pinochet Meyer's locked house the morning after the murder, they found James Angleton, the CIA's chief of counterintelligence, already inside searching for the diary.
Later that day, the Bradlees went to Mary's Georgetown studio, where they once again encountered spymaster Angleton trying to pick the lock to get inside.
Bradlee found the diary and said: "It described a love affair. After reading only a few pages, it was clear that the lover had been the president of the United States, though his name was never mentioned.”
The Bradlees promptly burned the diary.
However, a fictional work, JFK and Mary Meyer: A Love Story, has recreated what the diary could have said.
Author Jesse Kornbluth used factual historical reference points to put together what he believes was in the diary.
“JFK and Mary Meyer is a novel, but so built on fact that only the romance is invented. It was the romance that hooked me. Kennedy was damaged goods, Mary was his last hope for a healthy relationship; I wanted to write that relationship … And I always knew how it would end: after deep mourning for her lost lover, Mary was moving beyond despair,” said Kornbluth.
“But I can’t avoid the chilly reality. Two lovers, both shot to death. Two murders, eternally unsolved. Was his assassination a coup? If so, was her murder just a bit of housekeeping?” he asked.
“I was a journalist for four decades, and I have a journalist’s love of facts and a resistance to conspiracy theories,” Kornbluth continued.
He added: “Mary had worked as journalist after college; in her assassination research, she had great energy and a good eye for facts. Theories of the murder were more elusive; she may not have learned who pulled the trigger, but she definitely felt she knew who paid for the bullets.”
JFK and Mary Meyer: A Love Story is available now.