Why The Babushka Lady From JFK's Assassination Remains A Mystery

And so we return to the conspiratorial gift that keeps on giving: the 1963 assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy. As the official timeline on the JFK Presidential Library and Museum goes, he had arrived at Dallas via plane on November 22 and was on the way to speak at a luncheon at the Trade Mart with his entourage. JFK sat in a convertible smiling at the crowd with his wife, Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis, beside him, and at about 12:30 p.m. his motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository. Gunshots rang out, JFK was struck, and by 1:00 p.m. he was pronounced dead. As The Guardian recounts, sniper Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended in a movie theater at 1:45 p.m. after shooting and killing police officer J.D. Tippit. Two days later on November 24, nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald. The end.

And then there's Babushka Lady. Even if you're not versed in JFK conspiratorial lore, you might have seen photos of a peculiar onlooker in the crowd when JFK was shot. Those at the scene dropped to the ground, shocked, while Babushka Lady — the moniker given to a mysterious bystander wearing a babushka (Russian head scarf) — just sort of stands there, impassive, and doesn't react at all. Some say she was a spy. Some say she was a government agent part of an inside job. And to this day, no one even knows who she was.

[Featured image by Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled]

An ongoing conspiracy mystery

There have been about a bajillion breakdowns about the Babushka Lady, like the one on "Life's Biggest Questions" on YouTube. The front image shows a somewhat creepy smile on a middle-aged-ish woman wearing oval sunglasses, a tan trench coat firmly buttoned up, and of course, a babushka wrapped around her head and tied at the throat. She shows up in numerous photos around Dealey Plaza in the area where JFK was assassinated, and some of those photos indicate that she might have been recording JFK's motorcade when Lee Harvey Oswald took aim. On that note, police asked members of the public who were present at the time for any information that might help them in their investigation. Several women came forward claiming to be the Babushka Lady, but none of them could be corroborated. As far as facts are concerned, that's all we've had for 60 years.

If Babushka Lady had responded like anyone else at the scene, she wouldn't have stood out. However, pictures of her show an apparently calm lady standing completely still amidst absolute chaos. It's far too easy to imagine a movie scene where a grinning conspirator slowly turns around and silently walks away from a successfully completed plot. And yet, this is what some claim, especially because JFK was assassinated during the Cold War. Or you know, the Babushka Lady was a time traveler observing and recording what was, to her, already history. 

Will the real Babusha Lady please stand up?

To be fair, one lady did gain some traction as the purported Babushka Lady. She also got a bunch of money and a book deal. Beverly Oliver stepped forward in 1970 claiming to be the elusive woman, JFK Online explains, and wrote about her supposed experiences in her book, "Nightmare in Dallas: The 'Babushka Lady.'" In it, she revealed everything that the public would ever want to hear: She's the Babushka Lady, she was friends with Jack Ruby, the guy who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, and she even — gasp! — met Oswald himself. Renowned filmmaker Oliver Stone even included Beverly Oliver as a character in 1991's "JFK." Also, Oliver says that she was 17 at the time JFK was assassinated, as All That's Interesting recounts. Also, something something government agents took her camera.

Suffice it to say, Oliver's been long debunked by now. The camera that she claims she was using at the time to record events, for instance? She said it was a Yashica Super 8, which wasn't invented until 1965. Also, amongst an increasingly long list of improbabilities, she said that she was present to witness Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. If the reader would care to go down a never-ending rabbit hole about Oliver and more, feel free to check out the Kennedy Assassination Home Page, a comprehensive archive to whet the appetite of all conspiratorial murmurings.