Real Name: Robert Francis Kennedy
Case: Conspiracy/Historical Event
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: June 5, 1968
Details: Robert F. Kennedy was a United States Senator. On the night of June 4, 1968, Kennedy was celebrating his winning of the California primary election for Democratic nomination for President of the United States. He gave a speech at the Ambassador Hotel, and left to go to a press conference in the Colonial Room, just forty yards away. He exited from the rear of the stage, went down a hallway, and entered the kitchen pantry. While there, he stopped briefly to shake hands with the kitchen staff. At this point, he was shot multiple times and died twenty-six hours later at Good Samaritan Hospital. Five bystanders were also wounded. There were no photographs or video taken of the shooting.
According to official events, his assassin was Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant. Sirhan had fired eight shots from a .22 caliber revolver at Kennedy; he was convicted of murder on April 17, 1969. He has never denied killing Kennedy, but he claims that he cannot remember the hours surrounding the shooting. Some believe that there was actually a second shooter at the scene, and that this information was either not investigated or covered up by the LAPD.
The LAPD began their investigation into the shooting shortly after the pantry had been cleared. The next day, they found a notebook in Sirhan's apartment. Three weeks earlier, he had written:
My determination to eliminate RFK has becoming more and more of an unshakable obsession. Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated.
The case seemed open and shut. Sirhan had motive, opportunity, and the smoking gun. The gun that was taken from him was a .22 caliber Ivor Johnson revolver that held a maximum of eight rounds. The LAPD determined that eight bullets had been fired in the pantry, all from Sirhan's gun. The official report concluded that the bullets that struck Kennedy were fired first, from a distance of one to six inches.
According to the official investigation, Sirhan first struck Kennedy with a bullet to the back of the head, below his right ear. Another bullet penetrated his right rear shoulder. A third entered his back at an upward angle, and exited through his chest, lodging somewhere in the ceiling. A fourth bullet passed through his suit jacket, traveling at an upward angle and striking Paul Schrade in the forehead. Four other bullets struck bystanders. One ricocheted down from the ceiling and struck campaign worker Elizabeth Evans in the head.
However, some of the evidence does not seem to fit the official theory. Paul Schrade claimed that he was too short for the bullet to have hit him from the angle that it allegedly went. Also, medical reports stated that the bullet that hit Elizabeth came from an upward angle, not downward from the ceiling.
Eyewitnesses also placed Sirhan's gun muzzle a foot to three feet away from Kennedy. Karl Uecker was a Maire D' that was guiding Kennedy through the kitchen. He claimed that he was blocking Sirhan from getting close to Kennedy when Sirhan started firing. He also claimed that Sirhan had only fired two shots before he was forced away from Kennedy. The investigators, however, claimed that four shots were fired at Kennedy.
The LAPD claims that the witnesses were mistaken due to the panic and confusion of the moment.
In 1975, a lawsuit filed by one of the surviving victims resulted in a re-examination of the firearm evidence. Firearm experts compared the three intact bullets recovered from the victims, as well as test bullets fired from Sirhan's revolver. Their findings did not rule out the possibility of a second gunman. However, the findings also did not rule out that Sirhan acted alone.
An FBI photograph showed two bullets in the left door jam of the pantry; these bullet holes are not accounted for in the official report. An LAPD investigator, however, claimed that these were not actually bullet holes, but looked similar to bullet holes. Nevertheless, a former FBI agent claimed that he saw bullets in these holes. Portions of wooden door frames were removed from the pantry and booked into evidence. Records showed that they were later destroyed after Sirhan's conviction.
Former investigators later stated that they had, indeed, seen other bullet holes and bullet fragments at the scene. Several stated that they had seen the two bullet holes in the door frame in the FBI photograph. This evidence contradicted the official account of the assassination.
Overall, the physical evidence and eyewitness accounts seem to suggest that a second shooter may have been involved in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
Suspects: Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of Kennedy's murder. However, some claim that another shooter was at the scene. One eyewitness, Richard Lubic, claims that he saw a security guard pull his gun during the shooting and then leave the room. The security guard acknowledged that he un-holstered his weapon that night, but denies that it was fired. He cooperated with the police and was eliminated as a suspect in the shooting. Also, there appeared to be no connection between the guard and Sirhan.
Sirhan reportedly had no memory of the shooting. His lawyers and others have hypothesized that he was "psychologically programmed" to commit the assassination by unknown individuals and that his mind was "wiped" afterwards so that he could not identify them. This is similar to the plot of the novel The Manchurian Candidate. However, no credible evidence has been found to support this theory.
Several witnesses reported seeing a woman in a polka-dot dress with Sirhan shortly before the shooting. After the shooting, one witness reported seeing the woman flee the scene, claiming that they had shot Kennedy. However, the witness later admitted to investigators that she fabricated the story. The witness has since stated that she was forced by investigators into retracting her story. A retired police officer came forward in 1974, saying that when he arrived at the hotel that night, two witnesses described a similar story of a woman in a polka-dot dress saying "we shot Kennedy". He claimed that he filed reports about their statements, but the reports were never investigated.
There has been some speculation that the CIA was involved in the shooting. However, no credible evidence has been found to support this theory.
Extra Notes: This segment first ran on Unsolved Mysteries in the May 16, 1990 episode. The assassination was later discussed in May 3, 1996 episode about Scott Enyart.
Kennedy and Huey Long are the only two sitting U.S. senators to be assassinated.
Results: Unresolved. Sirhan Sirhan has appealed his conviction several times, claiming that the second shooter had killed Kennedy. However, each time his appeal has been denied.
A man named Scott Enyart claims that he was in the kitchen when Kennedy was shot and took several photographs of the shooting. However, he claims that his film was taken by investigators that night. He sued the LAPD in an attempt to get his photographs returned. The photographs would later be stolen by an unidentified individual. It is not known if the photographs had anything on them that would suggest that another shooter was involved.
In 2007, analysis of one of the audio recordings of the shooting appeared to indicate that at least thirteen shots had been fired, instead of eight. It also indicated that the shots were fired too close together in time for them to have come from one gun. Several audio experts confirmed this number of shots, while others stated that they could only hear eight shots. The FBI's analysis of the recording was determined to be inconclusive.
In 2012, an eyewitness changed her story about the events of the shooting. She claimed that she had heard two guns firing at the time that Kennedy was shot. She said at least twelve shots were fired and that the shots came from two different locations. She also claimed that the LAPD changed her account of the shooting. Her testimony seems to match several other witnesses who claimed to have heard more than eight shots coming from two different locations.
Officially, the case of Kennedy's assassination is considered closed, with Sirhan being the only assailant. No credible evidence has surfaced to indicate that others were involved. On August 27, 2021, Sirhan Sirhan was recommended for parole after serving 53 years in jail for the assassination.
- Robert Kennedy on Wikipedia
- Robert F. Kennedy is fatally shot - June 5, 1968
- Authorities Seek Girl Seen With Suspect Near RFK Shooting - June 7, 1968
- Report In Robert Kennedy's Slaying Ignored - December 23, 1974
- For the last time: Who killed RFK? - June 4, 1995
- Did the CIA kill Bobby Kennedy? - November 19, 2006
- Assassin's Lawyer Says Sirhan Sirhan Was Brainwashed - March 1, 2011
- RFK assassination witness: There was a second shooter - April 28, 2012
- Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Survivor Calls for New Investigation Into Second Shooter - February 18, 2016
- Witness Claims Second Shooter Killed RFK At Convicted Assassin's Parole Hearing - February 19, 2016
- Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn't believe it was Sirhan Sirhan - May 26, 2018
- Robert Kennedy Jr. joins chorus of second-gunman theorists over his father’s assassination - May 27, 2018
- Bobby Kennedy’s son thinks he was killed by a second shooter. Is there anything to it? - May 31, 2018
- The assassination of Robert Kennedy, as told 50 years later - June 4, 2018
- Did L.A. police and prosecutors bungle the Bobby Kennedy assassination probe? - June 5, 2018
- Paul Schrade, shot when RFK was killed, says there was a 2nd gunman - June 5, 2018
- CIA may have used contractor who inspired ‘Mission: Impossible’ to kill RFK, new book alleges - February 9, 2019
- Sirhan Sirhan: Robert F Kennedy's assassin stabbed in prison - August 31, 2019