The Mysterious Murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer—Revisited

The Murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer
by Jacob G. Hornberger, April 11, 2012

In early 1976 the National Enquirer published a story that shocked the
elite political class in Washington, D.C. The story disclosed that a
woman named Mary Pinchot Meyer, who was a divorced spouse of a high
CIA official named Cord Meyer, had been engaged in a two-year sexual
affair with President John F. Kennedy. By the time the article was
published, JFK had been assassinated, and Mary Pinchot Meyer herself
was dead, a victim of a murder that took place in Washington on
October 12, 1964

Cord Meyer, the son of a senior diplomat, was born on 10th November,
1920. The Meyer family was extremely wealthy and had made its money
from sugar in Cuba and from property on Long Island

Allen W. Dulles made contact with Cord Meyer in 1951. He accepted the
invitation to join the CIA. Dulles told Meyer he wanted him to work on
a project that was so secret that he could not be told about it until
he officially joined the organization.

Mary Pinchot Meyer
According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) James Angleton began
bugging Mary's telephone and bedroom after she left Cord Meyer. This
information came from an interview with Joan Bross, the wife of John
Bross, a high-ranking CIA official. Angleton became a regular visitor
to the family home and took Mary's sons fishing.

In October 1961, Mary began visiting John F. Kennedy in the White
House. It was about this time she began an affair with the president.
Mary told her friends, Ann and James Truitt, that she was keeping a
diary about the relationship.

The Mysterious Murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer—Revisited
by Nina Burleigh Apr 2, 2012 8:30 PM EDT

Mary’s Mosaic, a new book about the socialite, artist, and close
friend of John F. Kennedy, claims that her death was a CIA conspiracy.
Writer Nina Burleigh disagrees.

They were the aristocratic Mad Men of the Cold War, the spies,
politicians, and journalists sloshing back multiple martinis at lunch
(and the world’s finest wine at Georgetown dinners), smoke ever-
furling from lip to eye, all the while plotting to kill elected
leaders, control dissident minds with LSD, and plant spies in European
trade unions and American newspapers.

She was their Marilyn, an aristocratic blonde with knowing blue eyes,
lissome moves, the softest curves, and sometimes, a velvet pouch with
pot and acid at her side. “She was what woman were meant to be,” one
former lover sobbed, still bereft 60 years later. Among her conquests
was a man named Jack—John F. Kennedy to you and me. And like him, the
story goes, she had to die before her time.

Her name was Mary Pinchot Meyer, and she lived and died in a gone
world of monogrammed matchbooks, white-glove dances at Yale, yachting
summers in the Med. She bewitched the blue-blooded men she ran with
and who ran the world for a while, arrogant, entitled men who thought
of themselves as poets and spies. One of them, her husband Cord Meyer,
was both an accomplished short-story writer and, as the No. 3 in the
CIA, one of the Right-est architects of the nascent security state .

She also dropped acid with Timothy Leary and painted abstract art with
Kenneth Noland, but her greatest claim to fame is the tragic and
mysterious way she died, shot twice at close range in a park in
Washington, D.C., at age 43, 10 days after the Warren Commission
report was released.

Her murder is one of Washington’s “enduring mysteries,” as the
headline writers like to put it. Many have tried to solve it,
including me. I concluded, as did the journalist Ron Rosenbaum before
me, that Mary was most probably murdered by Ray Crump, the man police
arrested within hours of the crime in the vicinity of the murder. He
was identified by an eyewitness, then acquitted by an all-black jury
in 1965, as racial tensions were rising not just in D.C., but
nationally. The evidence against him was strong but circumstantial (no
gun was ever found), but my investigation led me to believe Crump was
entirely capable of violent behavior. His long post-acquittal record
included stints in federal prison for repeat arsons and the rape of a
13-year-old. I met a former wife who was in hiding from him; she
showed me a scar on her neck from a knife attack and described his
strange and violent fugue states.

None of that extinguishes the rumors of conspiracy in this case,
because Mary lived and died in a world of secrets, among powerful men
whose day jobs were to plot—always with “plausible deniability”—the
Bay of Pigs, the Iranian and Guatemalan coups d’etat, the
assassination of Congo president Patrice Lumumba, and countless other
known and unknown dark deeds.

When I was writing my book in D.C. in 1996 and 1997, I became aware of
a cult of believers who were certain, absent any proof, that Mary had
turned JFK on to LSD, and that she was behind the moves toward
rapprochement with Russia and Cuba that he seemed to have been making
in the months before he was killed. Mary Meyer had to die, the theory
went, because she knew why “Jack” was killed, and maybe even—since CIA
men were her friends and lovers—who was behind it.

In the last decade, newly available evidence is discrediting the lone-
gunman theory of JFK’s assassination. It seems ever more probable that
some combination of CIA-linked anti-Castro right-wingers and the mafia
were involved.

Armed with this new information, and a lifetime certainty that Mary’s
murder was a conspiracy, Peter Janney has produced a new book, Mary’s
Mosaic, about her murder. He knows her world well because he grew up
in it. His father was Wistar Janney, a CIA official, and, like Cord
Meyer and Allen Dulles, an American blueblood from a wealthy family.
Wistar Janney, along with many in his generation, served in World War
II, came home and forsook the family patrimony of the boardroom to
join the newly minted CIA’s covert war against communism.

Janney’s best childhood friend was Mary Meyer’s son. He also evidently
had a childhood crush on this friend's mother, and subsequently grew
obsessed with her murder, to the extent that he claims to have spent
the last 35 years studying the case. His conclusion is that not only
did the CIA mastermind Mary’s killing, but that his own father was
involved. (Full disclosure, Janney optioned my book for a number of
years, and, after failing to make a movie out of it, decided to write
his own book challenging my conclusions.)

Janney is a quintessential insider—a generation removed—and he shares
a number of similarities with many of the boomer children of Cold War
spooks. (The most famous of them is of course, George W. Bush) Because
the CIA at the time was completely off the books, many children
thought their dads worked at the post office or someplace like it. But
the men brought home the anxieties of Cold War–era spycraft, and in
typical “Greatest Generation” WASP tradition, the stiff upper lip
never softened. Alcohol was the bracer of choice.

Her murder is one of Washington’s “enduring mysteries,” as the
headline writers like to put it. Many have tried to solve it,
including me.