warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Five Conspiracy Theories About JFK’s Assassination

Kaitlyn Mullin |
November 18, 2013 | 12:46 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby as Oswald was moved by police, 1963 (Jack Beers Jr., Wikimedia Commons)
Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby as Oswald was moved by police, 1963 (Jack Beers Jr., Wikimedia Commons)

On Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy from the sixth floor of the nearby Book Depository as the president’s motorcade rode through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

Two days later, Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby in broad daylight. America's only hope at getting insight into the motive behind Oswald actions died. At least that’s the official story. 

With the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death fast approaching, conspiracy theories are running rampant around the Internet, especially in the wake of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent controversial remarks about his suspicions regarding the JFK assassination. Kerry recently said that he doubts Oswald acted alone. 

Whether you believe the official “lone gunman” story or think someone might be hiding something, here are five of the most interesting and bizarre JFK assassination conspiracy theories.  

1) The Grassy Knoll Theory

The Grassy Knoll Theory is one of the most publicized conspiracy theories. Many suspect that there was more than one shooter involved, especially after James (Sutton) Files claimed to have shot JFK from a grassy knoll with a Remington XP-100 pistol. Though his story has been deemed not credible, there are entire websites dedicated to this conspiracy theory that have compiled transcripts of his prison interviews and photos from the day Kennedy was shot that seem to depict a shadowy figure walking away from Dealey Plaza carrying a bag.

Files also implicated the Chicago Mafia, claiming that he and Oswald plotted with Charles Nicoletti and John Rosselli, both alleged mafia members. These alleged ties along with Jack Ruby’s ties to the mob have led to other theories involving the mafia.

2) Aliens

While this theory doesn’t technically claim aliens killed Kennedy, it argues that aliens were involved. Probably one of the strangest conspiracy theories out there, this one claims that Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA for growing too curious about secret UFO investigations. This theory stemmed from an alleged memo from the president to the CIA, asking them to produce all files on UFO investigations and brief him on their content just 10 days before he was shot. The memo has not been authenticated and many believe it is fake, but it has started one of the most unconventional theories. 

3) Lyndon B. Johnson did it. 

This theory implicates JFK’s Vice-President and successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, as part of the assassination plot. Johnson was acting Vice President at the time, and theories about his motive range from his desire for more power, to scandal cover-ups, to FBI involvement. Some claim LBJ was worried Kennedy would drop him from the ballot in the upcoming elections.

There are allegedly tapes of the late Jackie Onassis that imply she believed Johnson was involved in her husband’s assassination, though some theories suggest she may have had a hand in his murder as well. LBJ was famously implicated by Madeleine Brown, a woman who claimed to have been Johnson’s long-term mistress, when she alleged that LBJ had made incriminating remarks at a party the night before JFK was assassinated.  Her claims have been largely debunked by Dave Perry, who found evidence that some of the key political figures she claimed attended the party could not have been there, including LBJ himself. 

4) The Soviets did it. 

In the midst of the cold war, relations between the Soviet Union and America were tense to say the least. Oswald’s wife was born in Russia, and he visited the Soviet Union twice and lived there for nearly three years after defecting from the U.S. Marines.

Oswald’s known connections with Russian officials combined with the rising tension between the two nations has led to suspicion. Furthermore, one of the major turning points in JFK’s career as president was his response to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which garnered him respect and approval in America. The crisis was one of the most embarrassing losses for the Soviets during the Cold War, and after JFK was assassinated rumors of KGB involvement started to spread. Though there is no legitimate support for this theory, a former KGB member has publicly admitted that the Soviets had a hand in the assassination plot. 

5) The CIA did it. 

Even Dave Perry, famed JFK conspiracy theory debunker, claims that he cannot debunk this one. This theory begins a few weeks before the assassination, in the Russian embassy in Mexico City, where Oswald met with Valery Kostikov and Pavel Yatskov, but no one seems to know what was said. One theory claims that Oswald was a double agent working for the CIA who took the blame as a “lone-wolf” shooter.

At the time, the CIA was known for allegedly carrying out some high-profile political assassinations. The CIA has been accused by believers of doctoring footage and autopsy reports and elaborate cover-ups to hide their involvement in the assassination. The CIA is often implicated as part of many other conspiracy theories surrounding JFK’s assassination as well. 


Reach Staff Reporter Kaitlyn Mullin here.


*In a previous version of this article, it was said that it was unknown who Oswald met with in Mexico City. This has been updated with the names of those who he met with. 



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.