The Mystery of the Babushka Lady

When JFK was shot in 1963, a major effort was made to round up all witnesses to the event in order to either make a statement and aid in the official investigation or else be accounted for.  To date, most people present have been identified, but one figure standing quite prominently in the Zapruder film is seen holding a camera at an angle that could have offered new evidence in the case.  And neither she nor her film have ever been found.

The Babushka Lady, as she is called is the lady that is mostly covered in a scarf very similar to the kind a Russian Babushka or old woman would wear.  In the Zaprudder film she can be seen with a camera filming or taking pictures of the scene just as Kennedy is shot.  And yet despite her prominent appearance she soon vanished after the event before police could identify her.  A number of people have come forward, including the most prominent Beverly Oliver who would appear in several documentaries and be interviewed dozens if not hundreds of times about the event.  But despite this, the woman in the film shared few to no features as Ms. Oliver who was 17 at the time and clearly not the build of the mysterious figure in the footage.

But Oliver was related to the Kennedy assassination in at least one way other than her presence at Dealey Plaza that November afternoon.  She knew Jack Ruby, and was a dancer at a competing club in town.  Oliver claimed that her camera, a model that had not yet been invented, was confiscated by FBI agents before she could get away, but this has been proven to be a suspicious claim on several levels.  First, the camera she said was taken from her was clearly not one that could have been in the consumer market yet.  Second, the position she said she was in was behind two other witnesses – Charles Brehm and son.

So if it wasn’t Oliver, who was it?  A film developer, Jack Harrison, came forward the same day as Kennedy’s assassination in response to a request by FBI agents interested in pictures of the event.  He said the woman he developed the pictures for was a 30-something brunette with the same general build as the woman depicted as the Babushka lady on film.  Furthermore, the photographs he would develop would be at the exact position the Babushka Lady would have been in.  Unfortunately, because the photographs were Kodaks, there were no negatives and the woman left no contact information behind.  She simply disappeared into the night after that leaving behind a great mystery compounding another great mystery that some believe even today remains largely unsolved.

But theories about who she was are not in short supply by any means.  The Babushka lady has been said to be a man in drag, a Russian spy, a premeditated witness to the assassination, a secret service agent, an alien, and anything else imaginable to shroud her ever more in mystery.  And as time goes on the mystery becomes only more perplexing.