Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist



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Gunman's 'fantasy love for film star Jodie Foster'

Daily Mail April 1st 1981

A BIZARRE Hollywood-linked motive for the shooting of President Reagan began to emerge last night.

Policemen who searched gunman John Hinckley Jun's hotel room in central Washington say it was full of pictures of the teenage actress Jodie Foster. Letters also made clear that the would-be assassin was obsessed with the 18-year-old film star, and, had a fantasy love affair with her.

He was said to have hated Reagan because of some obscure slighting of Miss Poster by the President. Strangely, Miss Foster shot to fame in the film Taxi Driver in which the lead male character tried to murder a political candidate with a handgun.

DOUGLAS THOMPSON reports from Evergreen, Colorado: Residents of this sleepy mountain hamlet were dismayed last night about the secret, dangerous side of John Warnock Hinckley Jun. For the 'all-American boy', it was revealed, was a double-dyed Nazi.

So militant a Right-Winger was Hinckley that the American Nazi party expelled him for being 'too extreme'. Nazi president-elect Michael Allen said : 'He was a nut. He wanted to shoot people and blow things up-'

Sacked from the Nazis, Hinckley Joined an even more Right-Wing group known as Posse Comitatus [Latin for Powers of the County] based in Los Angeles. These militants have a hangman's noose as their symbol and see themselves as vigilantes who can try, convict and sentence wrong-doers.

Their leader Terry Oaks said : It seems John tried and convicted, and tried to execute, the President.'
So it was that John Hinckley, son of well-to-do parents, a man trained for success but who never achieved it, shot his way into the history books by proving that even £60 million of security cannot shield the President of the United States.

Dismissed the threats

Hinckley's parents and elder brother Scott are under police guard after threats against the wealthy family.

There was one report of a bomb threat as a reprisal for the shooting of President Reagan. The authorities dismissed the threat as the work of 'crazies', but police patrolled the area of Hinekley's half-million dollar home as the family held a conference with their lawyer. Mr Hinckley is president of a prosperous oil company. His elder son is vice-president of the same company.

The Hinckleys know vice-president George Bush's family well —the family gave a lot of money to Bush's election campaign—and last night Scott Hinckley was to have been a dinner guest at the, Denver home of Bush's son Neil. The dinner was cancelled. John Hinckley's world was far removed from big business and 'political high life.

It revolved around jeans and T-shirts and punk tape recordings. His brother Scott, 30, thought him 'a renegade', and his father confessed to his Bible study group here that his younger son was undergoing psychiatric care and he was extremely concerned for him.

The attempted assassination of President Reagan confirmed only too tragically his father's fears.

If assassins are made and not born, Evergreen seems an unlikely place for it to happen. It sits in the Rocky Mountains by a lake surviving on getaway-from-it-all tourist dollars and the investments of the scant but affluent population.

All there are here are mountains and trees and rich people. It is a tranquil escape for the oil tycoons and energy researchers who play a daily cut-throat business in the Colorado capital of Denver.

Here and in Dallas where he used to live, Hinckley made a two-faced impression.

Personality change

At times he was the image of his 55-year-old father, chairman and president of the Vanderbilt Energy Company. At other times he was the rebel his brother Scott grew up with. As a Dallas schoolboy, living in a mansion with a swimming pool, he is remembered as a 'likeable and laughing' lad. At the sedate Highland Park High School, they remember a youth who seemed 'very cordial, not too outgoing or too overbearing'.
But during Hinckley's seven on-and-off years at Texas Tech. university, his personality chang­ed. Nazism dominated his thoughts and he began to prefer his own company.
Hinckley's choices for the out-of-classroom work were Hitler's Mein Kampf  and a book about Auschwitz.

The obsession Hinckley had with the Nazis astonished Professor Otto Nelson. His pupil wrote a re­view of Mein Kampf. It was, said the professor, 'the first time any student of mine had ever read Mein Kampf. He did a good job of it, and I gave him 90 marks.'

Don Barrett, who rented him a TV in Dallas, said : 'He's a loner. I never saw the guy with anyone.' Hinckley was first arrested four years  ago for  a marijuana offence.
Then came more serious trouble —in October last year he was held, on a plane at Nashville carrying a case containing three handguns and 50 rounds. President Carter's plane was at the airport at the same time.

Yet after questioning by FBI; agents, Hinckley paid £30 bail and went free.
Why a man in such circumstances was allowed to get close enough to pump a bullet into President Reagan as he walked on the streets of America's capital is now under intense investigation.

The Secret Service admits that John Hinckley was not on their list of 400 likely assassins or their list of 25,000 less likely political killers.

After the shooting the Hinckleys' lawyer said for the family : 'John has been under recent psychiatric care. These evaluations did not alert anyone to the seriousness of his condition. We are grieved and heartbroken by this tragedy,
'We love our son John and will of course stand by him. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones.'

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