We all know that John Kennedy was shot and killed on 22 Nov 1963 while traveling in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. What most people don’t realize is that this was not the first attempt on his life.
On 11 Dec 1960 Richard Paul Pavlick, a 73-year-old retired postal worker, attempted to assassinate then President-elect Kennedy. He loaded his car with dynamite and waited outside the Palm Beach, Florida home were the Kennedys were vacationing prior to his inauguration. His plan was to ram his car into Kennedy’s limo and set off the dynamite, killing Kennedy and himself.
Pavlick had a history of erratic behavior. He was known for his political rants at public meetings and for being vehemently anti-Catholic. He frequently complained that the American flag was not being properly displayed. Once he went to the home of the supervisor of the local water company and threatened him with a gun. The gun was confiscated.
Pavlick turned over ownership of his home to a youth camp and set out to kill the president-elect. He visited the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Point, Massachusetts and photographed it to check the security.
Kennedy left the house and walked to the limo which was to take him to Mass at St. Edward’s Church but his wife Jacquiline and his children Caroline and the newly-born John Jr. were with him. Although he wanted to kill Kennedy, he didn’t want to harm his family so he did not go through with his plan.
Pavlick did not get a second chance. Acting on a tip from the Secret Service, he was arrested by a Palm Beach police officer. Pavlick had sent some deranged postcards to Thomas Murphy, the Postmaster of Belmont, New Hampshire where Pavlick lived. Murphy noticed that the postmarks were from the same general area where the Kennedys were vacationing and notified the authorities.
Pavlick was committed to the New Hampshire State Mental Hospital on 27 Jan 1961. Since it was clear that he was unable to distinguish between right and wrong, the charges were dropped in August of 1964. He remained institutionalized until Dec 1966 and died on 11 Nov 1975.
Text © 2018 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.