Conspiracies are much older than the movies, books, and magazine articles that have brought them into popular consciousness. There is something about them that sticks in the memory of those who contemplate them.
Take the unsolved murder of our beloved president, John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Few believe the Establishment’s mega-lies that a loser, such as Harvey Lee Oswald, was the killer. If anything Oswald was telling the truth when he blurted out: “I’m only a patsy.” (1)
Just two days after that utterance, Oswald was gunned down by Jack Ruby, a shady character for sure. Who was Ruby? He was a sleazy strip club owner, with ties to both the Dallas and Chicago Mobs. He later died in prison. Ruby pointed to the then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, as the man behind the scenes who orchestrated the hit job on J.F.K. (2)
Ruby, after his arrest, had said he killed Oswald because he wanted to “spare his widow a trip back to Dallas to testify at Oswald’s trial.” Most people wanted to throw up when they heard that one.(3) That whopper of a lie belongs in the Guinness book of world records.
Recently, three books have been published that also claim, with strong documentation, that it was Johnson who was the power behind the conspiracy to kill Kennedy. This made sense to many who have followed this case. LBJ was described in one book as a “loutish psychopath willing to do anything to advance his rise to power.” The book further revealed: “Oswald was a CIA pawn, set up to be the fall guy…and that he personally knew Jack Ruby.” (4)
In his recent tome, “10 Greatest Conspiracies of all Time,” author Brad Meltzer covers the JFK assassination among other cases of note. He writes in the preface that the number one request he got was: “Tell us about the assassination of JFK.” Melter does that one, and nine more situations of public note to boot. He does more than just whet your appetite about these mysteries, too. Meltzer digs deep and asks probing questions along the way.
Meltzer dared to reopen the case of John Wilkes Booth – President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. He challenged the story that Booth, after the killing at Ford’s Theatre, was chased down and killed in Garrett’s barn in Port Royal, VA. Are you ready for this: Meltzer suggests that Booth lived “for forty more years.”
A few years ago, activists were looking to exhume Booth’s grave in Baltimore’s “Green Mount Cemetery.” They wanted to test his DNA and match it against his “brother Edwin.” However, a court was not convinced the request was justified and rejected the petition.
Do you remember that case back in 1971 where a dude known as “Dan Cooper” hijacked a Northwest Airline flight from Portland to Seattle? A passenger on the flight, he demanded four parachutes and $200,000. Well, Meltzer covered that story, too. There are a lot of theories about who pulled that job off, but as far as the FBI is concerned “it is still an open case.”
Did you know there was a lot of Confederate Gold missing after the Civil War ended? We’re talking about $20 million worth. Meltzer wrote that as the South was sinking, Jefferson Davis, its president hid tons of this treasure in hopes that “the Confederacy would rise again.”
Supposedly, the loot ended up in a local bank. It wasn’t there long when it was “seized by Union forces.” At some point, the treasure was stolen again. This time by a group of 20 men on horseback. Had the Confederates struck again? The locals believe – theory only – that this heist was pulled off by a secret society known as “The Knights of the Golden Circle.”
The author suggests we will probably never know what happened to the gold of the Confederacy. He writes, “after all the only people who really know are dead.”
Meltzer hits on six more subjects, all riddled with mystery in his book, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “stolen prophecy.” I’m giving his literary/detective effort four out of five stars.
Bill Hughes is an attorney, author, actor and photographer. His latest book is “Byline Baltimore.” It can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/William-Hughes/e/B00N7MGPXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1