On October 12, 1964, a woman named Mary Pinchot Meyer was brutally shot and killed while walking along the C&O Canal Trail near the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. The police charged a black man named Ray Crump, Jr., with the crime. Since the murder took place in the nation’s capital, the trial was in a federal district court.
Crump vehemently professed his innocence of the crime. Convinced of his innocence, a renowned Washington, D.C., criminal-defense attorney named Dovey Roundtree agreed to represent him for free.
At Crump’s trial, the federal prosecutor summoned a man named Ben Bradlee to the witness stand as the prosecution’s first witness. At the time, Bradlee was serving as the Washington bureau chief for Newsweek. He would later go on to become executive editor of the Washington Post. Bradlee’s wife was Mary Meyer’s sister.
After Bradlee took the witness stand, the prosecutor, Alfred Hantman, asked him the following question: “Now besides the usual articles of Mrs. Meyer’s avocation, did you find there any other articles of her personal property?” Bradlee replied, “There was a pocketbook there,” adding that it contained “keys, a wallet, cosmetics, and pencils.”
It was lie, or, more precisely, it was what is called a “half-truth,” which is actually worse than a lie because it uses the truth as a way to deceive. What Bradlee failed to reveal in response to the prosecutor’s question was a secret that he was determined to protect: that he had also found the personal diary of Mary Meyer.
Unbeknownst to the prosecutor or to Crump’s defense attorney was that on the night of the murder, Bradlee had gone to Meyer’s home to retrieve her diary. When he arrived there, he encountered a man named James Jesus Angleton burglarizing the home in his own attempt to retrieve Meyer’s diary.
Angleton was head of counter-intelligence for the CIA. His wife and Meyer had been good friends. Bradlee found the diary and turned it over to Angleton, who then proceeded to destroy it.
Both Bradlee and Angleton had to have known that they were obstructing justice and destroying evidence in a criminal case. They both had a legal and a moral duty to immediately turn that diary over to the police. After all, the diary could very well have contained clues as to who the real murderer was.
Suppose, for example, that Meyer had seen someone following her and had put that information and the description of the stalker into her diary. That would have been important information that the police could have followed up on.
As it turned out, Meyer had been having a secret affair with President John F. Kennedy in the months prior to his assassination. By all accounts it was an extremely intimate affair, one in which Kennedy appears to have actually fallen in love with Meyer, who had been a longtime peace activist. Given that Kennedy had thrown down the gauntlet before the U.S. national-security establishment with his famous Peace Speech at American University in June 1963 in which he declared an end to the Cold War, it is entirely possible, even likely, that Kennedy was talking to Meyer about the vicious war in which he was engaged with the U.S. national-security establishment. Meyer might well have included Kennedy’s sentiments in her diary.
In fact, Meyer alluded to this possibility in a telephone call after the Kennedy assassination to LSD guru Timothy Leary, with whom she was friends, in which she sobbingly and fearfully stated, “They couldn’t control him any more. He was changing too fast…. They’ve covered everything up.”
As Peter Janney detailed in Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace, an excellent book that I highly recommend, Mary’s murder had all the characteristics of a highly professional hit job along with a very sophisticated frame-up of an innocent man.
By the time the secrets surrounding the discovery and the destruction of Meyer’s diary were disclosed, the statute of limitations had presumably run on such crimes as obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, perjury, and conspiracies to commit these crimes.
Prosecutor Hantman later stated that he had been “totally unaware of who Mary Meyer was or what her connections were,” and that having that knowledge “could have changed everything.”
D.C. Police Detective Bernie Crooke later stated, “I’d have been very upset at the time if I’d known that the deceased’s diary had been destroyed.”
Wikipedia states, “In her 2009 autobiography, Justice Older than the Law (reissued in 2019 as Mighty Justice), defense counsel Dovey Roundtree expressed shock at learning of the diary’s significance from Bradlee’s book. ‘How differently my line of cross-examination would have run had I been aware, on July 20, 1965, of the story Mr. Bradlee told thirty years later in his autobiography…. James Angleton’s awareness of the diary’s existence and his interest in finding it, reading it, and destroying it – all of that unsettled me deeply when I read Mr. Bradlee’s 1995 account, as did his insistence that the diary was a private document…. Had I been aware of it, I would have felt compelled to pursue it.'”
On July 29, 1965, the jury found Ray Crump, Jr., not guilty.
In a deathbed interview in February 2001, Cord Meyer was asked who he believed had murdered his ex-wife. Recanting an earlier statement that he had made in a 1980 book he had written that pointed to a “sexually motivated assault by a single individual,” Meyer responded, “The same sons of bitches that killed John F. Kennedy.”