Who Killed John F. Kennedy? Seven Suspects Who Aren’t Lee Harvey Oswald

Published November 12, 2023
Updated March 12, 2024

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Here's why many doubt the official story of who killed him.

From the moment CBS News broadcaster Walter Cronkite lowered his glasses on November 22, 1963, and told the American public that President John F. Kennedy was dead, the same question has echoed in the minds of countless people throughout the U.S. and around the world. Who assassinated the president? Who killed JFK?

Who Killed JFK

Wikimedia CommonsThe baffling question of who killed President Kennedy has loomed large in the American consciousness ever since the fateful day he was shot in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

Less than a year later, the Warren Commission presented its definitive answer to the public: Lee Harvey Oswald. The commission declared that Oswald had killed the president with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. Significantly, the Warren Commission also declared that Oswald had acted alone.

But their conclusion about who killed President Kennedy didn’t satisfy everyone. In the years since the JFK assassination, other theories have emerged. Pouring over tapes and documents from November 22, 1963, some have identified unsettling moments seemingly outside the bounds of explanation.

There’s the man with an umbrella who appears to give a signal, and an unidentified woman wearing a babushka who seems to capture the murder on film.

Moments like these could be a coincidence, but conspiracy theorists have also identified groups and individuals who had a vested interest in killing President Kennedy. Not only did they want the president dead, but there’s evidence — viewed from a certain angle — that they may have acted on this desire. Shadowy figures in New Orleans, mobsters, and even Kennedy’s vice president have been floated as possible suspects.

So who killed JFK? Officially, Lee Harvey Oswald. But some are convinced that Oswald didn’t act alone — or that he was, as he claimed himself, “a patsy.” Read on to learn about some other potential JFK assassins.

Who Killed JFK? The Story Of David Ferrie, The “Getaway Pilot” Who May Have Known Lee Harvey Oswald

Who Killed John F Kennedy

Bettmann/Getty ImagesDavid Ferrie wearing sunglasses and a hat in 1967, shortly before his death.

Shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, police in New Orleans received an alarming call from a man named Jack Martin. Martin, a private investigator, said that someone he knew named David Ferrie might have played a role in the president’s death. Martin claimed that Ferrie knew alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald from their time in the Civil Air Patrol and that he was supposed to have been Oswald’s “getaway pilot.”

Ferrie struck most who knew him as odd. Because of his alopecia, Ferrie wore a wig and had exaggerated, painted-on eyebrows. And he wasn’t shy about his political opinions. When the FBI spoke to him just a few days after the JFK assassination, Ferrie admitted that he’d been angered by the president’s lack of support for Cuban rebels during the Bay of Pigs invasion (which was meant to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro).

Ferrie might have even, he acknowledged to his interrogators, “used an off-hand or colloquial expression ‘[Kennedy] ought to be shot.'” But Ferrie insisted that he’d been in New Orleans on November 22, 1963 — not in Dallas, Texas. His story seemed to check out, and the FBI let him go.

The story might have ended there, but New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison also started to investigate the assassination (as depicted in the 1991 film JFK). And Garrison came to consider Ferrie as one of his main suspects.

David Ferrie And The Alleged JFK Assassin

PBSDavid Ferrie, far left, and alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, far right, in the Civil Air Patrol in 1955.

“We discovered links between David Ferrie, Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby [who shot and killed Oswald in 1963],” Garrison later told Playboy. “We discovered, in short, what I had hoped not to find… the existence of a well-organized conspiracy to assassinate John Kennedy, a conspiracy that came to fruition in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and in which David Ferrie played a vital role.”

In fact, David Ferrie did have a connection to Lee Harvey Oswald. Like Martin had originally claimed, both had belonged to the Civil Air Patrol at the same time (though it’s unclear if they associated with each other).

And the conspiracy-minded might find Ferrie’s death strange. On February 22, 1967, Ferrie died at 47 from a ruptured brain vessel — shortly before Garrison planned to arrest him. Though he’d apparently died of natural causes, investigators also found what appeared to be suicide notes nearby.

“I suppose it could just be a weird coincidence that the night Ferrie penned two suicide notes, he died of natural causes,” Garrison remarked to Playboy.

author
Kaleena Fraga
author
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
editor
John Kuroski
editor
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "Who Killed John F. Kennedy? Seven Suspects Who Aren’t Lee Harvey Oswald." AllThatsInteresting.com, November 12, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/who-killed-jfk. Accessed June 13, 2024.