Who Killed Mary Pinchot Meyer?

Meyer And JFK

Kennedy Portrait

Wikimedia CommonsJohn F. Kennedy.

The story of JFK’s infidelities didn’t start with Mary Pinchot Meyer, but it may have ended with her — if only because he was assassinated in November of 1963, about a year before Meyer would be killed. Shortly before his assassination, JFK penned a letter to her imploring her to visit him.

“I know it is unwise, irrational, and that you may hate it,” he wrote, “— on the other hand you may not — and I will love it. You say that it is good for me not to get what I want. After all of these years — you should give me a more loving answer than that. Why don’t you just say yes.”

The letter (which fetched $89,000 at auction in 2016) never made it to Meyer. Though that may have been one missed connection, JFK entertained Mary Meyer on a semi-regular basis from early 1960 until his death in 1963, usually when his wife was away.

Some accounts imply that not only was her relationship with JFK a sexual one, but may have also been drug-motivated. Meyer was thought to have brought not just marijuana, but LSD, into the White House for their use.

But what really made Meyer dangerous to JFK was her mind: She was a liberally minded person with strong feelings about U.S. foreign policy, the threat of nuclear war, and the inherent dangers of the U.S. government.

Her beliefs were not necessarily unfounded, either. Having been married to a CIA agent and befriended many of the organization’s higher-ups, Meyer knew a lot — maybe too much. And if she was having informal, pot-laden conversations with the sitting president about such sensitive information, it wouldn’t have been all that shocking to hear that those in D.C.’s national security community deemed her a threat.

Given the sociopolitical climate in 1960s America, it wouldn’t have taken much for a woman like Meyer to earn that status — she didn’t conform to social standards, she didn’t blend in. In fact, she dropped acid and painted abstract art with infamous drug evangelist Timothy Leary.

And while it may seem unusual for a woman like that to be so close with the president himself, Mary Pinchot Meyer indeed was. That said, by the time JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Mary had not been with him for quite some time.

Meyer’s sister noted that she did not seem as shocked or upset about JFK’s death as the rest of the country. Some believe that it was because she simply wasn’t surprised, or perhaps she had been privy to some kind of deadly threat against JFK from within the government — which would also explain why she had kept her distance from him for some time beforehand.

Of course, at this point in history, the general public didn’t even know about JFK’s affair with Meyer.

In fact, it would be another decade before the National Enquirer would imply that Meyer’s death, almost one year after JFK’s, had been part of a larger government conspiracy. But those close to her would come to be the first to suspect that Mary Pinchot Meyer’s death was more than just a random attack in a public park.

Abby Norman
Abby Norman is a writer based in New England, currently writing a memoir for Nation Books. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Independent, Cosmopolitan, Medium, Seventeen, Romper, Bustle, and Quartz.
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