Newswise — Dr. Albert Harper will be watching with interest as "Bobby," the new movie written and directed by Emilio Estevez about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, debuts in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on November 17, and nationally November 23. Harper oversees the RFK Assassination Archive at the University of New Haven, where he is director of the university's Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science.
Among the holdings at the archives—which represents one of the world's largest collections of documents related to the June 5, 1968 assassination—is "the letter." It is the enigmatic envelope containing a mysterious note handwritten by Sirhan Sirhan marked: "to be opened after my death."
Dr. Harper explains how the materials came to the University of New Haven http://www.newhaven.edu He says he received a call in 2001 from Lowell Bradford, who was a forensic scientist in the California state crime lab in the 1960s. Bradford had been involved in the Sirhan Sirhan trial that followed the RFK assassination and the investigations surrounding the assassination for many years afterwards. Bradford knew about the university's Henry C. Lee Institute, named after the world-famous investigator who founded the University of New Haven's forensic sciences program and who has been a faculty member there for more than 30 years.
Dr. Lee has assisted in the investigations of more than 6,000 cases, including war crimes in Bosnia, the suicide of former White House attorney Vincent Foster, review of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the O.J. Simpson trial and the death of JonBenet Ramsey. The Henry C. Lee Institute, which includes the newly established National Cold Case Center, serves as a hands-on resource for students, scholars and law enforcement officials, particularly those investigating unsolved crimes.
"Bradford asked if we were interested in taking his collection, and then he put us in touch with Bob Joling, who used to be head of the National Academy of Forensic Science," says Harper. "Joling had more stuff." Joling also had more connections with people with even more materials and items of interest"¦and the collection grew, mostly comprised of letters, reports, and articles about the assassination.
Joling continued the trail by introducing Harper to Lynn Mangan, another RFK assassination investigator, who had befriended Sirhan in jail and had worked for decades trying to clear Sirhan's name. Mangan then led Harper to Ted Charach, considered the "Father of the Second-Gun Theory" and an independent investigator. Charach, listed as a primary witness to the RFK tragedy by the office of the Los Angeles District Attorney, was one of the first witnesses just outside the Ambassador Hotel kitchen doors at the time of the shooting--and he firmly believes there was another gun involved in the assassination.
A broadcast journalist covering the RFK victory celebration the night of the assassination, Charach began a four-decade investigation into the event and has produced a book, The Search for the Second Gun, and a film version of "The Second Gun Expose" about the RFK tragedy. Charach now says he believes he has found the "second gun," and wants to add it to the UNH archives.
By today's exacting standards of forensic science, Harper says the investigation into the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy was slipshod, at best. The evidence gathered by the LAPD was disposed of a year after the assassination, and Harper says it seems clear that other evidence was "simply made up." Whatever happened in Los Angeles that night, Harper says the evidence indicates that Sirhan may not have killed Robert Kennedy. "The bullet that killed Kennedy entered his head from the back, and as anyone knows who has seen photos of that night in that kitchen," Harper says, "Sirhan Sirhan was standing in front of Bobby."
He says the evidence would seem to indicate that all eight bullets fired from Sirhan's gun missed Kennedy, and that the fatal shot actually came from another direction.
Has Harper ever been tempted to take a peek at Sirhan's infamous letter, which was given to the university by Lynn Mangan? "Of course I'm curious," Harper says. "But we will wait."