The circumstances surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, spawned suspicions of a conspiracy. These suspicions were mitigated somewhat when an official investigation by the Warren Commission concluded the following year that there was no conspiracy. Since then, doubts have arisen regarding the Commission’s controversial finding that only Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the assassination of Kennedy, and many Americans believe that others besides Oswald were also involved in the assassination. Critics have argued that the Commission and the government have covered up crucial information pointing to a conspiracy.
Subsequent official investigations confirmed most of the conclusions of the Warren Commission. However, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1979 that Kennedy was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy, with: “…a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President”. No person or organization was identified by the HSCA as having been a co-conspirator of Oswald. The acoustical evidence that the HSCA partly based its conspiracy conclusion on has since been discredited.
Most current theories put forth a criminal conspiracy involving parties as varied as the CIA, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, the military industrial complex, the Israeli Mossad, sitting Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Cuban President Fidel Castro, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the KGB, or some combination of those entities. In an article published prior to the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, author Vincent Bugliosi estimates that a total of 42 groups, 82 assassins, and 214 people have been accused in conspiracy theories challenging the “lone gunman” theory.
Allegations of mysterious or suspicious deaths of witnesses connected with the Kennedy assassination originated with Penn Jones, Jr., and were brought to national attention by the 1973 film Executive Action. Jim Marrs later presented a list of 103 people he believed died “convenient deaths” under suspect circumstances. He noted that the deaths were grouped around investigations conducted by the Warren Commission, New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Marrs pointed out that “these deaths certainly would have been convenient for anyone not wishing the truth of the JFK assassination to become public.”
Vincent Bugliosi has described the death of journalist Dorothy Kilgallen—who said she was granted a private interview with Jack Ruby—as “perhaps the most prominent mysterious death” cited by assassination researchers. According to author Jerome Kroth, Mafia figures Sam Giancana, John Roselli, Carlos Prio, Jimmy Hoffa, Charles Nicoletti, Leo Moceri, Richard Cain, Salvatore Granello, and Dave Yaras were likely murdered to prevent them from revealing their knowledge. According to author Matthew Smith, others with some tie to the case who have died suspicious deaths include Lee Bowers, Gary Underhill, William Sullivan, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, George de Mohrenschildt, four showgirls who worked for Jack Ruby, and Ruby himself.
Richard Buyer and others have complained that many documents pertaining to the assassination have been withheld over the years, including documents from the Warren Commission investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation, and the Church Committee investigation. These documents at one time included the President’s autopsy records. Some documents are still not scheduled for release until 2029. Many documents were released during the mid-to-late 1990s by the Assassination Records Review Board under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. However, some of the material released contains redacted sections. Tax return information, which would identify employers and sources of income, has not yet been released.