10 Philly Connections to the JFK Assassination

Philadelphia is forever tied to that dark day 50 years ago in Dallas.

Photo | shutterstock.com

Photo | shutterstock.com

As the world observes the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, we asked intrepid interns Amanda Wyszynski and Jayson Flores to research Philadelphia’s ties to the tragedy. Here’s what they found:

Gaeton Fonzi: Born in Philadelphia on Oct. 10, 1935, Fonzi graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and was a Philadelphia magazine reporter and senior editor. In 1975 he was asked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to join the JFK assassination investigation. In 1993, he published a book on his research into the JFK assassination called The Last Investigation.

Arlen Specter: Long before his run as U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, the young attorney was assistant counsel for the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of JFK. The late Specter will forever be linked to the controversial “single bullet theory.” He passed away in 2012.

Maj. William F. Lee: A Philadelphia native and decorated Marine, Lee was appointed “death watch” commander to guard JFK’s casket in the East Room at the White House in the days after his death.

Philadelphia University: The school in East Falls currently has a “Single Bullet Exhibition” exploring Arlen Specter and the Warren Commission. It runs from until April 11, 2014.

Bouvier Mansion in Philadelphia: Michael Bouvier, great-great grandfather to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, lived in a home in Society Hill (260 South Third Street). It was listed for sale for $3,199,000 in 2011.

William Thaddeus Coleman: Philadelphia lawyer and native William Thaddeus Coleman Jr. reportedly interviewed Fidel Castro after JFK’s death (in 1964) to find out if their foreign government had been involved in the assassination, according to the book A Cruel and Shocking Act. Coleman’s accountability is called into play in the article, with claims that his statement on meeting with Castro has changed.

JFK and the Philadelphia Eagles (Almost): The Kennedy brothers expressed an interest in purchasing the Eagles which, due to the Cuban Missile Crisis, was never realized.

Steve Kennan (or Keenan): He was a Quaker from Philadelphia said to have made contact with Lee Harvey Oswald and to have drove him on a motorcycle to the Cuban and Russian embassies.

Vincent Salandria: Philadelphia native Vincent Salandria was has argued that JFK was not killed by a lone gunman. He also argued that neither the FBI, the Mafia, the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro, nor Lyndon B. Johnson were behind the assassination. He wrote a number of essays on the topic which are collected in the book False Mystery.

Leland Cummings: A fanatical Philadelphian who was so disturbed by the assassination of JFK that he kicked his wife and daughter out of the home. He barricaded himself inside with his guns and infant son, and was eventually talked into coming out.

For more, read Will Bunch’s “JFK Assassination: 50 years, 50 people,” and Frank Fitzpatrick’s “A region in mourning: The death of JFK