Tuesday, December 15, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1798


West Palm Beach, Florida (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, December 15, 1960,  Richard Paul Pavlick* was stopped here in West Palm Beach by police officer Lester Free who saw him drive across the highway dividing line.  Upon a search of the vehicle, seven sticks of dynamite were discovered along with "spools of wire, and a homemade detonation device."

Pavlick, who was 73 years old at the time of his arrest, had come to Palm Beach with the intention of driving his dynamite-laden vehicle into President-elect John F. Kennedy's limo. 

The would-be assassin waited outside the Kennedy compound on Sunday morning, December 11, 1960, but when the president-elect emerged with his wife and two children, Pavlick decided to "try again another day."

Pavlick was a retired postal worker who was known for writing "prolific letters to newspapers" about his belief that Joe Kennedy had been attempting to buy the presidency for his son.   Pavlick's arrest ended the immediate threat to JFK.

On January 27, 1961, one week after JFK's Inauguration, Pavlick was committed to the United States Public Health Service Mental Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.  The charges against him were dropped on December 2, 1963, just days after JFK's death in Dallas.

Pavlick, who remained institutionalized until December 13, 1966, had been determined to be legally insane.  In other words, at the time of his attempt to kill JFK he was unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

Secret Service Chief U.E. Baughman, later wrote...

"The closeness of the call was appalling.  Hardly anybody realized just how near we losing our president-elect to a madman."

*Richard Paul Pavlick (1887-1975) was born in Belmont, New Hampshire.  He worked as a postmaster until his retirement.  In 1960, RPP mailed strange postcards to Thomas M. Murphy, the postmaster in Belmont.  Murphy became suspicious when the postmarks on these cards coincided with the places visited by President-elect John F. Kennedy. Murphy alerted US Attorney Maurice P. Bois who in turn contacted the Secret Service.  RPP died at the VA Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1975.


"JFK: the assassin who failed," by Philip Kerr, New Statesman, November 27, 2000

"Near Miss:  JFK Assassination Attempt in 1960," by Steve B. Davis, Writings and Wramblings,

"The Kennedy Assassin Who Failed," by Dan Lewis, December 6, 2012 SMITHSONIAN.COM

Pavlick's Car and Weaponry