‘My pal was a secret CIA agent – and I feel she was the second JFK shooter’

Mary Haverstick by no means meant to research the assassination of John F Kennedy. Her plan, after an opportunity encounter in an artwork gallery, was to make a documentary about 13 ladies who tried, and failed, to be accepted onto Nasa’s astronaut coaching programme in 1960.

Filmmaking is what Haverstick does, and the main focus of her movie was to be Jerrie Cobb, a pilot and Nobel Prize nominee who handed the bodily exams for the Mercury missions into house, solely to be instructed that the Moon was very a lot a person’s world.

It will have made for fascinating viewing, however the extra time she spent with Cobb the extra she started to suspect that one thing about her story didn’t add up.

Cobb unquestionably did lead the marketing campaign for the ‘Mercury 13’ to be accepted onto the house programme, she did rack up a collection of firsts for ladies in aviation, and she or he did earn a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1981 for humanitarian work with indigenous tribes within the Amazon.

Look her up on Wikipedia and you can see a prolonged entry about her extraordinary life as a pioneer, adventurer and champion of ladies’s rights.

But Haverstick’s work on the movie attracted the eye of a Division of Protection official, who befriended her in barely suspicious circumstances on a tenting vacation and later warned her that paperwork given to her by Cobb for her analysis have been labeled.

Jerrie posing next to a Mercury spaceship capsule

Jerrie posing subsequent to a Mercury spaceship capsule in 1950 – Smith Assortment/Gado/Getty Photographs

“From that warning it simply nagged in my head, ‘wow, that’s simply too bizarre’,” says Haverstick. The outcome was a decade-long quest to get to the reality about Cobb, which unexpectedly dragged her into the turbid world of JFK’s homicide through Cobb’s obvious undercover work for the CIA.

As a substitute of a movie, Haverstick ended up writing a guide, A Woman I Know: Female Spies, Double Identities and a New Story of the Kennedy Assassination. It reveals Cobb to be an infinitely extra exceptional and sophisticated character than the daredevil pilot she allowed the world to see, and takes the reader on a journey that results in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

“Quite a lot of folks fell down the JFK assassination rabbit gap by no means to return,” she writes, “and I wasn’t in a rush to turn out to be one in every of them.”

Like so many earlier than her although, she discovered herself within the irresistible tractor beam of the Kennedy assassination, and the unanswered questions on what occurred on that sunny day in Dealey Plaza that also have an effect on attitudes to authorities to at the present time.

What Haverstick came upon was that Cobb flew a light-weight plane out and in of a personal airport in Dallas on the day of the assassination, in such peculiar circumstances that she turned satisfied she performed a job within the homicide, presumably as an meant getaway pilot for murderer Lee Harvey Oswald.

Jerrie Cobb

Jerrie Cobb in 1960, sat within the cockpit of a airplane

If that weren’t startling sufficient, she additionally got here to suspect that Cobb was a mysterious character recognized to Kennedy investigators because the Babushka Girl, who was the closest individual filming the president for the time being he was shot, however who vanished after the assassination, alongside along with her all-important footage. Discovering the Babushka Girl (so referred to as due to her triangular ‘babushka’ headband) and her close-quarters movie of the deadly second has been one thing of a holy grail for JFK investigators for the previous 60 years.

No matter whether or not there actually was a deep state conspiracy to take away Kennedy, Haverstick’s book plunges the reader into a fascinating world of spying in the chill depths of Cold War America, the place the forged of characters contains Khrushchev, Castro, the Mafia, the CIA and the odd Nazi rocket scientist.

Talking to The Telegraph from her dwelling in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Haverstick says that earlier than she met Cobb in 2008 “I hadn’t given a ton of thought” to the Kennedy assassination and the conspiracy theories round it.

“Nearly everyone has seen the Oliver Stone film JFK,” she says, “and after I noticed that film [released in 1991] I got here away considering there’s most likely much more to the story. I most likely would have leaned – a lean, not a certainty – that there might be extra to it. What that may appear like I had no thought.”

Now she actually does have an thought. After the go to from the mysterious Division of Protection official, “I simply began to Google,” she says, and she or he rapidly got here throughout one other lady, June Cobb, who seems in declassified CIA recordsdata as an agent who labored as Fidel Castro’s secretary in Communist revolutionary Cuba within the late Nineteen Fifties.

June Cobb’s title additionally seems repeatedly in recordsdata regarding the Kennedy homicide, not least as a result of she alerted the CIA to the suspicious behaviour of Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico Metropolis weeks earlier than Kennedy’s assassination. Intriguingly, at the least one 20-page file on June Cobb is among the many 3,000-4,000 paperwork regarding the assassination that Joe Biden remains to be refusing to launch.

Haverstick found what she describes as an astonishing listing of similarities between June Cobb and Jerrie Cobb, and have become so satisfied that they have been both the identical individual or that that they had been swapping identities that she needed to confront Jerrie with what she had discovered.

“Her solutions have been weird, off the rails,” she says. “She appeared to start with thrilled that I had discovered June Cobb. I anticipated her to stroll out in a huff that I used to be trying into this or I had provide you with a wild principle.

“However she was comfortable; she technically denied being June, then proceeded to inform me plenty of issues about June that nobody would know until they labored intently with June or have been June.

“She mentioned that June had impersonated her for some time. I feel Jerrie was the one doing the impersonating.” Jerrie additionally instructed her in later conversations that she knew Castro, in addition to Kennedy.

Cobb set three aviation records when she was in her twenties

Cobb set three aviation data when she was in her twenties – Everett Assortment Historic / Alamy

Given June’s presence within the Kennedy archives, Haverstick determined to search for any proof of Jerrie within the paperwork, and found a reference to a small twin-engined airplane, of the type that Jerrie flew on the time, that witnesses reported standing for hours with its engines operating at Redbird non-public airport in Dallas that day.

“I took a large guess,” says Haverstick, 63, “and I mentioned to her that I believed June Cobb flew to Redbird. Jerrie broke into nearly tears, was extraordinarily emotional after which she instructed me it had been her.”

Jerrie’s rationalization for what she was doing there stretched credibility to the restrict: she mentioned she had been employed by Life journal to fly a reporting workforce to Dallas to cowl the presidential go to, however that after they heard he had been assassinated they deserted the project and left.

The suggestion {that a} workforce of reporters and photographers would sit in an aeroplane ready to depart, as an alternative of operating to cowl the largest story of the last decade, made Haverstick “100 per cent sure” that Jerrie was mendacity.

She determined to take a look at pictures to see if she may spot Jerrie in Dallas, and got here throughout the “anomaly” of the Babushka Girl.

“I used to be fearful sufficient that the Babushka Girl might be Jerrie that I confronted Jerrie,” she says. “It took me some time to have the ability to work as much as the dialog with Jerrie and her solutions to that dialog weren’t significantly reassuring to me.”

One principle across the Babushka Girl is that she was holding a gun hid in her digital camera, and took a shot at Kennedy. Haverstick is satisfied there was a second shooter and says the Babushka Girl was ideally positioned to be that individual, simply 33ft away from him with the legendary grassy knoll as the proper ballistic backstop if she missed.

John F Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in Dallas, moments before he was assassinated

John F Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in Dallas, moments earlier than he was assassinated – Reuters

She says that whereas she can’t be sure who the Babushka Girl is: “I’m sure that the Babushka [Lady] is an under-researched character, that she was fully missed. If that occurred right this moment there can be a manhunt for her and you’ll count on to see the footage.”

One lady did come ahead years later to say she was the Babushka Girl, and that two males claiming to work for the federal government took her digital camera away, however her declare was largely dismissed as a result of the digital camera she mentioned she was utilizing was not invented on the time.

Haverstick’s preliminary principle was that Jerrie Cobb was at Redbird to fly Lee Harvey Oswald (or presumably another person) out of Dallas after the assassination. Among the many lots of of different books written about JFK have urged that Oswald was working for the CIA (who supposedly needed Kennedy lifeless for a number of causes) and that the plan had been to fly him to Cuba to falsely implicate Castro, and even that he was working for Castro all alongside.

However Haverstick turned satisfied Jerrie was in even deeper than that. “I felt she had some culpability within the assassination due to the position she described to me and due to what she was hiding about her double identities,” she says.

Her guide even builds a convincing case for Jerrie being a CIA agent with the cryptonym QJWIN, whose position was to recruit killers for an assassination squad that initially focused Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba.

She is anxious to level out, although, that hers just isn’t a “case closed” kind of guide, saying: “Books that declare to have these solutions are most likely not as credible as books that current the proof and let folks determine.”

Jerrie Cobb, third from left, with her fellow female Mercury candidates

Jerrie Cobb, third from left, along with her fellow feminine Mercury candidates – Alamy

Why are we nonetheless obsessing about Kennedy’s homicide because the sixtieth anniversary approaches?

“I feel folks must be extra obsessive about it than they’re,” Haverstick says, including that she believes there’s a “straight line” between the Kennedy assassination and the mistrust folks have in politics right this moment.

“On this nation we’ve simply seen January 6 [the Capitol attack]… you suppose coups and overthrows on our personal soil are unimaginable, however we noticed turmoil in our nation that confirmed us in any other case and it’s worrying.

“Did we not correctly examine [a coup] up to now and that’s coming again to hang-out us as a result of we don’t perceive them very effectively?

“I feel there’s no query that the authorities swept issues below the rug in a short time to maneuver on, to have switch of energy, and get America again on monitor, and the investigative rug-sweeping, whether or not you suppose there was a conspiracy or they only did a nasty job… in the event that they did it when you search for it to occur once more and I feel that planted a toxic seed in lots of methods.”

Regardless of having written what’s prone to be a a lot talked-about guide, Haverstick is surprisingly downbeat about its publication.

Jerrie died in 2019 at the age of 88

Jerrie died in 2019 on the age of 88 – Getty

“This has not been a straightforward course of,” she says. “It was a reluctant course of for me. It’s not a straightforward story to inform or one which I get pleasure from telling, frankly. It’s a tricky story to speak about America and a lady I do know and present what I came upon about her and publicly say it.

“I want I’d take extra pleasure on this second, I do take a way of aid and satisfaction that I’m on the finish, nevertheless it wasn’t one thing I relished. I simply felt an obligation to inform a troublesome story.”

Within the 10 years she knew Jerrie, Haverstick spent an enormous period of time along with her, occurring vacation along with her and Jerrie’s feminine companion nearly yearly for as much as 5 weeks at a time and coming to treat her as a pal.

But regardless of calling her guide A Girl I Know, Haverstick admits: “I feel she was to some extent unknowable at her core. I did really feel an emotional disconnect, I didn’t observe her having empathy, in order that was troubling to me.

“I felt that she offered a facade, a few of which was true. She was a pioneering lady, that was true, she was a really succesful lady, however there’s an enigma that’s nearly unimaginable to pin down.”

Earlier than Jerrie died in 2019 on the age of 88, she took Haverstick on a highway journey to see a photo voltaic eclipse, which each ladies instinctively knew was prone to be their final assembly, as Jerrie’s well being was failing.

There was no deathbed confession, no tell-all letter, no smoking gun doc left for the chronicler of her life.

“I did hope there is perhaps a doc or one thing however I had bought to know her floor guidelines fairly effectively,” Haverstick says. “I had come to grasp that she would by no means inform an overt story of what she did. I got here away considering she’s as enigmatic and extra in order the day I met her.”

A Girl I Know: Feminine Spies, Double Identities, and a New Story of the Kennedy Assassination is revealed by Scribe (£25). To order your copy name 0844 871 1514 or go to

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