Peter Pan and Pixie Dust

Robert F. Kennedy arrived, not by helicopter, but by automobile, a Mercedes Benz with no official emblems. At least that is what Ward Wood recalled twenty years after Marilyn’s death. While doing the investigative research for his best-selling voyeuristic pathography about Marilyn, Anthony Summers uncovered Ward Wood and conducted an interview with the man who was allegedly Peter Lawford’s next door neighbor that summer over six decades ago. Wood was a former executive in the automobile industry; so Summers assured his readers that they could rely on the accuracy of Wood’s statement regarding the brand of car from which Robert Kennedy dashed and then entered his brother-in-law’s beachside mansion; and by a suggestion extension, of course, Summers’ readers could thereby rely on the remainder of Wood’s testimony. Law­ford’s neighbor, who just happened to be coincidentally outside on that day and at that mo­ment, remained unsure, however, about the time of day when the attorney general’s car pulled up and parked in front of Lawford’s beach house. Maybe the car arrived during the afternoon or maybe during the early evening; but he was not unsure of the date: August the 4th in 1962.

Lynn Franklin, a former undercover detective on the Beverly Hills’ police force, testified that he encountered Robert Kennedy during the first hour of Sunday August the 5th in 1962, proving conclusively that the attorney general was not where he claimed to be during that eventful weekend. At exactly 12:10 AM, Officer Franklin observed a white Lincoln Continental speeding east on Olympic Boulevard, going twice the posted speed limit of 35 MPH. He stopped the hot rod Lincoln at Olympic’s intersection with Robertson Boulevard only to find the famous actor, Peter Lawford, behind the steering wheel. A passenger, then unknown to Franklin, was seated in the passenger’s seat next to the actor. Franklin snapped on his flashlight and aimed the beam into the rear of the Lincoln. The bright beam of light landed squarely on the face and in eyes of the Attorney General of the United States, Robert Kennedy.

Compelling stories, to say the least, and compelling testimony as well, that offered by Ward Wood, Lynn Franklin, William Woodfield and Joe Hyams. Their testimony certainly adds an intriguing aspect and wrinkle to the Where-Was-Robert-Kennedy on the 4th of August conundrum. Still, the assertion that Robert Kennedy appeared at Fifth Helena, not once, but twice on August the 4th in 1962 presented, and still presents, a serious problem for the conspiracists. An airplane which contained Robert Kennedy, his wife and children landed in San Francisco on the 3rd of August where they were met by John and Nancy Bates, who then drove Robert and Ethel Kennedy, along with four of their then seven children, southeast from San Francisco to Gilroy, a pleasant two hour and fifteen minute drive into the picturesque Santa Cruz Mountains. From Gilroy they drove an additional twenty minutes west to the Bates Ranch located at 6545 Redwood Retreat Road, just north of Mount Madonna.

According to the testimony of the Bates family, the events at the ranch on the following Saturday, the 4th of August, included a big breakfast and an early morning horseback excursion to Mt. Madonna. Roland Snyder, the Bates ranch foreman, testified that he saddled a few horses and their mounts obediently formed a line. After the foreman snapped some photographs, John and Nancy Bates along with Robert Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy and their oldest daughter, Kathleen, rode their equine mounts slowly south toward Mount Madonna.

The afternoon included a BBQ, swimming and a game of touch football followed by more swimming. The junior Bates, who was fourteen then and would soon leave for boarding school, recalled Robert Kennedy’s teasing but humorous comments; and the senior Bates vividly remembered the image of a fatherly Robert Kennedy as he sat with the children and told them stories while they ate. Then, after all the kids had been put to bed, the adults ate. During the meal, the conversation centered around a speech the attorney general would deliver in San Francisco during the following week. The Kennedy’s hosts recalled that the dinner and conversation ended around 10:30 PM; and not long thereafter, Robert and Ethel Kennedy retired for the night to a detached bungalow.

For his 1993 Marilyn biography, Donald Spoto interviewed John and Nancy Bates along with John Bates, Jr. and Roland Snyder. Each unequivocally confirmed the presence of Robert and Ethel Kennedy and four of their children at the ranch during that weekend in August; and John Bates emphatically testified, on more than one occasion, that Robert Kennedy was with the Bates family the entire weekend and never left Gilroy. Certainly, at the moment Robert and Ethel entered their bungalow after eating that Saturday night, and closed the door, their hosts for that weekend lost sight of them; and more importantly, they lost sight of Robert Kennedy. According to various conspiracists authors, that was when the attorney general’s shenanigans allegedly began.

Once out of the Bates’ sight, apparently Robert Kennedy metamorphosed into Peter Pan, and with the aid of some enchanted pixie dust, surreptitiously flew in a flying machine from Gilroy to Los Angeles where he visited Marilyn at Fifth Helena. Virtually every conspiracist who ever fingered the keys of a mechanical typewriter or the keys of a magical keyboard has so asserted; and in a few of the popular murder orthodoxies, Robert Kennedy, as I have already noted,  visited Marilyn not once, but twice that Saturday, accompanied alternately by his brother-in-law, Peter Lawford, and a gaggle of various brainless and neckless goons, both named and unnamed, toting doctor’s bags which concealed drug filled syringes.

And yet, if Robert Kennedy was in Gilroy, California, as attested by John Bates and others who were also present at his ranch that weekend, and if he never left, how could the attorney general have been in two places at once? Well, obviously, he could not have been; but in order to circumvent that obvious existential reality, the conspiracists advanced this possibility: John Bates, his family and his ranch foreman simply were not aware that their wicked weekend guest slipped away like Harry Houdini, his absence unnoticed, and on that Saturday, flew to Los Angeles where he participated in the murder of Hollywood’s most famous actress. He then returned and suddenly reappeared magically just like David Copperfield. Considering the legerdemain required to accomplish such a feat, in my opinion, that seems more than highly improbable; and a decade plus one year would pass following Robert Slatzer’s publication before Anthony Summers faced the niggling issue of Gilroy, California, the Bates Ranch and the testimony of its owners.

Summers obviously questioned the Bates family: he simply did not like what their responses indicated and obviously proved. Also, the duplicitous FBI did not assist Summers with his investigation, the same FBI that Summers believed unequivocally otherwise, that is if their reports affirmed his theories. The FBI’s San Francisco field office, Special Agent Frank Price specifically, would not offer any comments regarding the events of 1962 or the movements of Robert Kennedy that August weekend. Summers interpreted Price’s refusal to comment, his silence, as obstruction and obfuscation of facts relating to a preconceived belief for which Summers wanted affirmation; but then the FBI had already commented on Robert Kennedy’s location that weekend in 1962. FBI file 77-51387-293, dated August the 6th, noted in part:

On August three last, Attorney general and his wife and four children arrived in San Francisco. They were met by personal friends, Mr. and Mrs. John Bates, who took them to their ranch at Gilroy, California, for the weekend. On the Evening of August 5 last, AG and family returned to San Francisco and spent night at apartment of Paul Fay, Sr.

Paul Fay, Sr. was the president of a general contracting firm that constructed municipal improvements in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. His son, Paul Fay, Jr., became one of John Kennedy’s closest friends during WWII; and they remained close friends thereafter. The junior Fay served as Under Secretary of the Navy in the Kennedy Administration even though Fay Jr. was a declared Republican. President Kennedy’s Republican friend also wrote a book about his association with the young president: The Pleasure of His Company. The laudatory book reached the shelves in bookstores three years after John Kennedy’s tragic murder.

Summers simply ignored the FBI file referenced above while he, along with Donald Wolfe, mentioned another file, a first person memorandum written by Courtney A. Evans and directed to Alan H. Belmont. Both Evans and Belmont worked directly for J. Edgar Hoover; and according to Alan Belmont’s testimony before the Warren Commission in May of 1964, the Bureau transferred him from Cincinnati to New York City and then to Washington, DC, where, in 1961, he received a promotion to the assistant to the director in charge of all investigative work of the FBI […]. According to the FBI’s website: Courtney Allen Evans (1914-2010) was an FBI agent from 1940 to 1964. In 1960, he became assistant director in charge of the Special Investigative Division. He served for a time as the FBI liaison to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Both Summers and Wolfe quoted only a small portion of the memorandum from Evans to Belmont. Each noted in quotation marks that the attorney general and family spent the weekend at the Bates ranch located about sixty miles south of San Francisco. This was strictly a personal affair.

Written from a detached third person point-of-view, most FBI memoranda or files reported on the observed individuals with an impersonal tone and called those being observed the subject or subjects. Written from the first person point of view, Evans’ memorandum has the tone of a letter written to a friend about a friend, a unique perspective for an FBI memorandum. What follows hereafter is a portion of the uniquely personal memorandum, file 77-51387-300, dated the 22nd of August, which Summers and Wolfe failed to quote. Evans’ memorandum provided an essential detail:

This memorandum is submitted to supplement teletypes sent from San Francisco and Seattle with relation to the Attorney General’s visit to these cities earlier this month. This was a combination business and vacation trip on the part of the Attorney General.

He arranged his flight from Washington Friday afternoon, August 3, 1962, so he could transfer in Chicago to the American Airlines flight from Boston to San Francisco which was being used by his wife and four older children. On arrival in San Francisco, the Attorney General and his family were met by their weekend hosts, Mr. and Mrs. John Bates. Bates is a San Francisco attorney in a prominent law firm headed by John Sutro, President of the San Francisco Bar Association. The Attorney General and his family spent the weekend at the Bates ranch located about sixty miles south of San Francisco. This was strictly a personal affair.

Evans then noted that he went on into San Francisco, meaning that the FBI’s liaison to Robert Kennedy was on the flight with the soon to be vacationers.

Furthermore, Evan’s statement that Mr. and Mrs. John Bates met the Kennedy family at the San Francisco airport and drove them immediately to Gilroy, while his itinerary took him directly into San Francisco, directly contradicted two related assertions, one by Peter Wright and one by Robert Slatzer. If Robert Kennedy and family arrived in San Francisco during the afternoon of August the 3rd, which was obviously the case, then Peter Wright’s asserted scenario that RFK and Peter Lawford arrived by helicopter at Stage 18 on the Fox lot in the late afternoon, August 3, 1962 must be dismissed as a complete fabrication; and Robert Slatzer’s asserted scenario that Robert Kennedy checked into the St. Francis Hotel, in San Francisco, on Friday, August 3, 1962 must also be dismissed as a complete fabrication. Still, an essential question must be asked: why did both Summers and Wolfe quote only a small portion of FBI file 77-51387-300? Certainly and yet another example of conspiracist’s picking those low hanging cherries.

Despite the Bates’ testimony, the evidentiary photographs taken by the Bates family during that weekend―more about those photographs will appear later―along with FBI files 77-51387-293/300, Anthony Summers offered a typically suggestive and fallacious sort of deductive syllogism in order to get Robert Kennedy to Los Angeles that Saturday. Evidently Anthony Summers believed in an essential need and felt compelled to get Robert Kennedy into Los Angeles on August the 4th. Follow the following.

If the attorney general traveled to Los Angeles from Gilroy—a rather large if I must comment—then he must have traveled by air. Certainly Robert Kennedy could have traveled to Los Angeles from Gilroy by car, a short drive of just 314 miles from the ranch’s driveway to the entrance court at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, a drive that would have consumed just a smidgen over five hours. Robert Kennedy could have left the Bates ranch at 8:30 AM and arrived at Fifth Helena by 2:00 PM.

And yet, according to Summers’ deductive reasoning, the existence of airports nearby made the trip possible; and since a number of persons said that Robert Kennedy was in Los Angeles on August the 4th, ipso facto, Robert Kennedy traveled to Los Angeles by air on August the 4th, ignoring any and all possible difficulties inherent in such a trip. In fact, John Bates asserted, according to Donald Spoto, travel to Los Angeles from Gilroy, due to the intervening steep mountains, deep canyons and high tension power lines, was only possible by car in 1962; but even so, inquiring minds want to know: who were the number of persons referenced by Anthony Summers and to what did they testify―precisely?

By using the statements of several testifiers to Kennedy’s presence in Los Angeles on August the 4th, Summers cleverly constructed an argument from authority favoring a prepossessed theory and belief. Summers began by quoting two unnamed but nonetheless senior policemen. Each asserted, without offering any evidence to support their assertions, that Robert Kennedy came to Los Angeles.

Summers then invoked the name of former Los Angeles Mayor, Sam Yorty. Apparently, the LAPD chief, William Parker, who had died in 1966, told Mayor Yorty that Robert Kennedy had been observed at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the night of August the 4th (Summers 503). Again, Mayor Yorty did not offer any supportive evidence. So Sam Yorty, who was seventy-four years old when Summers interviewed the authority figure in 1983, twenty-one years after Marilyn’s death, testified that he received the information from the then deceased former Los Angeles police chief who received the information from whom exactly? Summers left the identification of Chief Parker’s sources to the imagination of his readers. Yorty’s testimony was blatant, secondhand hearsay.

Former Mayor Sam Yorty also appeared on KTLA’s 1992 docudrama, The Marilyn Files; and he dutifully repeated his hearsay testimony for a live studio audience and thousands of viewers watching at home. The former mayor testified:

Chief Parker came to me and said that Bobby Kennedy was in town and that he was seen at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, staying at the regular suite that the Kennedys always used. And that was the first time I knew that Bobby was in town. I know he was because Parker would not lie to me (emphasis mine).

Incredible testimony by Mayor Yorty to say the least. Disregarding that he identified two different hotels, the Beverly Hilton and the Beverly Wilshire, and that his testimony was blatant hearsay, even more incredible was the former mayor’s ridiculous declaration that police Chief Parker would not have lied, considering that an LAPD operation, the Organized Crime Intelligence Division, the Gangster Squad, known for deception and corruption, operated with impunity during the tenure of Chief William Parker, who certainly was not a paragon of honesty. In fact, former OCID detective, Michael Rothmiller, testified that police officers who were members of the Gangster Squad often deceived the public and public officials alike. According to Rothmiller, the existence of any secret file, or any information contained therein, would never have been acknowledged by the OCID; and the information each file contained would never have been revealed or shared, not with any individual outside of the OCID, anyway, not even with the Mayor of Los Angeles. So, Sam Yorty, himself, either distorted the truth pertaining to Chief Parker; or Suitcase Sam, one of his many unflattering nicknames, was simply a gullible or an ineffective mayor.

Sam Yorty suffered a severe stroke in May of 1998, after which he contracted pneumonia. He died on the morning of June the 5th at the age of 88. In 1999, Melvin Holli published The American Mayor: The Best and the Worst Big-City Leaders. The top ten list of worst big city mayors between the years of 1820 and 1985 included Sam Yorty at number 6 (Holli 184). Holli noted that Yorty was condemned by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for alleged insensitivity to minorities and gross negligence toward the largely African American Watts area, which presumably helped trigger one of the worst urban race riots of the decade in 1965. Additionally, in 1966, Robert F. Kennedy lambasted and pilloried Yorty for his failures in Watts (Holli 19). Is it possible that Sam Yorty had an axe to grind on Robert Kennedy’s legacy?

Summers then invoked the name of Thad Brown, Chief of Detectives for the Los Angeles Police Department, another authority figure. Thad advised several individuals that he firmly believed Robert Kennedy visited Los Angeles on that Saturday; but Thad did not actually observe Kennedy that day and offered no evidence or proof of Kennedy’s presence. Additionally, Thad Brown’s alleged testimony could not be verified since by 1985 he had been dead for fifteen years. Brown’s testimony was blatant secondhand hearsay.

Thad’s brother, Finis, a former detective who worked briefly on Marilyn’s case, stated that some contacts informed him that Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford had been seen the night Marilyn died; but then, Finis never revealed who those contacts were: homeless men, Jesus People, Fairies? Again: blatant secondhand hearsay. Again: no evidence.

Eventually, the noun fact entered Summers’ narrative, used to establish the testimony offered, despite the fact that neither Thad nor his brother Finis offered a fact of any form whatsoever: one offered his personal belief while the other offered uncorroborated hearsay testimony from unknown informants who also offered hearsay testimony. No evidence.

The next testifier, Hugh McDonald, Director of Homicide Detectives for the Los Angeles’ County Sheriff’s Department, yet another authority figure, asserted that Thad Brown told him, McDonald, that Robert Kennedy was without a doubt in Los Angeles on August the 4th, staying at Peter Lawford’s beach house; but the traveler from Gilroy ignored a dinner date with Marilyn. No evidence presented. No proof advanced. Thad Brown’s stated belief had been transformed into an undeniable and indisputable fact by the well-oiled gears of the rumor machine while that machine also added a new wrinkle: Marilyn and Bobby were scheduled to have dinner during the evening of August the 4th but Bobby stood-her-up. No indication regarding why Bobby did that, or what Bobby did, or where Bobby went that night after disrespecting Marilyn, that is, until he appeared at Fifth Helena and either murdered her or observed her murder.

Finally, after invoking the name of a former Deputy District Attorney, John Dickey, who offered similar hearsay testimony regarding Kennedy’s presence, without offering evidence or proof, Summers quoted Daryl Gates, the Los Angeles Police Chief; however, Daryl Gates was not the LAPD Chief in 1962. He was possibly a lieutenant or a captain by then but he would not be appointed Chief of Police until 1978. Even so, Summers quoted Gates’ 1992 memoir, in which the former LAPD chief asserted what the truth was, that the police department always knew when the attorney general was in Los Angeles. A declaration of truth by the Chief of Police, usually considered to be a sacrosanct source or witness, retired or otherwise, and the ultimate figure of authority regarding crime. Be that as it may, Chief Parker admitted the following: the LAPD neither followed nor surveilled Robert Kennedy’s movements while he was is Los Angeles. Still, pardon me if I am being repetitious: where is the evidence leading to proof? Likewise, pardon me if I express a certain incredulity, offer a few observations and also pose a few questions.

Firstly, if the LAPD ignored Robert Kennedy’s movements and activities when he visited Los Angeles, then Los Angeles law enforcement officials certainly treated the Attorney General of the United States in what can only be called a cavalier manner.

Secondly, if the LAPD ignored Robert Kennedy’s movements, did all the sightings alleged by various law enforcement’s shady contacts and dubious informants occur merely as a result of synchronicity? Los Angeles was a rather enormous city even in 1962.

Thirdly, if the LAPD ignored Robert Kennedy’s movements, how could that agency know anything for certain regarding when he arrived, or even if he arrived, what he did while he was in Los Angeles or when he departed? In point of fact, none of the testimony provided by Summers’ testifiers, the official and unofficial agents of local law enforcement, included one eyewitness, firsthand account of Robert Kennedy’s usually ignored movements while he was allegedly present in Los Angeles. Not one eyewitness account.

On September the 24th in 1985, the Los Angeles Times published an article written by David Freed, a staff writer. The article, entitled “Police Open the Files on Marilyn: No Bombshells,” noted that the Los Angeles Police Department, on the 23rd of September, released what the department asserted was their unclassified file of Marilyn’s case. A department spokesman said the file was made public to dispel the lingering “speculation, innuendo and out-and-out lies’ that Monroe was the victim of foul play.” Freed quoted Daryl Gates, the Los Angeles Chief of Police at the time: She committed suicide by barbiturates; that is the reality, and there is nothing very special about it except for the fact that she was Marilyn Monroe. According to Gates according to Freed, the file the LAPD released was virtually a duplicate of the original, which had been destroyed in 1972 as stipulated by the department’s regulation which requires that records 10 years or older be purged. The released information also contained the original investigatory files compiled by Detective Thad Brown, the deceased former Chief of LAPD Detectives. The Freed article mentioned Robert Kennedy, the alleged secret affair between Marilyn and the attorney general and referenced a Oui article which alleged that Marilyn was murdered by a lethal injection in order to protect Robert Kennedy; but then the Oui article, Freed also noted, was effectively refuted by the LAPD’s released file.Police Chief Gates did not offer any comment other than the one quoted above; and he did not state that Robert Kennedy was in Los Angeles on August the 4th in 1962.1

Relatively few conspiracists who published a murder orthodoxy subsequent to 1985 mentioned the LAPD file release or Chief Gates’ statement. Those who did ridiculed what the police department released and called the information issued inadequate and censored, a continuation of collusion and obfuscation designed to shield the middle Kennedy brothers and preserve the legacy of the Kennedy clan. In later editions of Goddess, Anthony Summers even credited himself and his pathography for prompting the files’ release.

However, I want to give the conspiracists the benefit of a very slim doubt. Still, in so doing, I cannot dismiss the testimony of those in Gilroy at the Bates ranch; so here is another $64,000 question: was it possible for Robert Kennedy to skulk away from Gilroy while his wife, all of his children and his weekend hosts slept; was it possible for him to fly to Los Angeles, as frequently asserted by conspiracists, without the aid of pixie dust? Okeedoke. The preceding represents two questions.

Most conspiracists favor a helicopter as the mode of transportation used by Robert Kennedy, either a private charter or a military variety of chopper, while some maintain, like Donald Wolfe, that the attorney general flew by helicopter to a nearby airport or military airfield where he boarded a fixed wing aircraft and then flew to another military airfield near Los Angeles and then boarded another helicopter which transported him to either 20th Century-Fox’s lots or Culver Field or Santa Monica Beach where Peter Lawford awaited his arrival. From there, he and Lawford drove the few miles to Marilyn’s hacienda in nearby Brentwood. However, before exploring the problems associated with traveling from Gilroy to Los Angeles by whirlybird, suffer some history of the helicopter.

The Helicpoter's History Briefly