Richard Pavlick

If the name Richard Pavlick doesn’t ring a bell, it’s understandable. We’ve been hearing a lot about Lee Harvey Oswald this past week, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. But if Pavlick had gotten his way, his name would be the one universally recognized, and Oswald’s that of a long-forgotten nobody.

You see, Pavlick was planning to assassinate JFK long before Oswald gave any serious thought to it. Pavlick was a retired mail carrier from New Hampshire, then in his early seventies. When President-elect Kennedy went to Palm Beach, Florida, for a vacation prior to the inauguration, Pavlick followed him there in his 1950 Buick sedan loaded with dynamite. His intent was to blow up the car, himself, and his few meager possessions after ramming into Kennedy’s limousine.

Luckily for the Kennedys, the December Sunday chosen for the attack saw JFK get in the limousine to head for mass… along with Jackie and the kids. Pavlick had second thoughts about killing those innocents, so he decided to wait for another opportunity to get JFK alone.

That opportunity never came. He was arrested four days later, on December 15th, on a tip provided to the U.S. Secret Service by his hometown’s police force. Apparently the postmaster in New Hampshire had learned of threatening postcards Pavlick had sent… and a large purchase of explosives he had made prior to leaving town.

Pavlick was committed to a federal mental facility in Springfield, Missouri, in January, 1961. He was formally indicted for threatening JFK’s life seven weeks later. But charges against him were dropped following JFK’s death, as by then it was apparent that he was incapable of proceeding to trial because of legal insanity. He was finally released from the hospital in 1966, and died back in New Hampshire, in relative obscurity, nine years later.

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