Home/ Archive/ Essays/ RFK Essays/ Selected Essay/ Incomplete Justice: Mind Games?

Incomplete Justice

Part Five: Mind Games?

by Larry Hancock, 22 Jun 2008

Sirhan Sirhan

There seems to be little doubt that Sirhan fired a weapon at RFK - with intent to kill. However, Sirhan claimed, and still claims, to recall nothing about the shooting. That claim was repeatedly brought up to the jury, with the implication that Sirhan should simply not be believed. The prosecution’s supporting point was Sirhan’s own lack of any interest during his initial hours in police custody. Sirhan asked no questions about how he had come to be in custody or what he might have done.

Dr. Diamond, a defense psychiatric witness offered his opinion that, in his own experience, persons who had become “disassociated” from reality did not immediately begin questioning their actions. He stated that it was more likely that they would appear to be on guard, be cautious in their talk, act reserved and appear evasive. This would occur while they gradually emerged from their disassociated state. The defense maintained that a unique combination of circumstances had combined to cause Sirhan to become mentally disassociated in the pantry of the hotel, losing his grip on reality and actually acting against Senator Kennedy with no conscious decision to do so. Readers are referred to chapters eleven and twelve of Klaber and Melanson’s Shadow Play for an in depth study of the defense’s psychiatric activities with Sirhan as well as the psychological testimony offered in his defense.

However, Sirhan’s memory loss was much more far ranging than that of a few minutes in the pantry of the Ambassador hotel. We will examine that larger issue, and Sirhan’s reliablility, in this essay. To begin with, it seems reasonable to pull together a synopsis of Sirhan’s own behavior in the pantry and with police – and to examine it to see if it conforms with Dr. Diamond’s characterization of disassociation and emergence. Incidents and quotations are taken from two major sources, Robert Kaiser’s book R.F.K. Must Die! and the Krantz Report (a follow-on study of police activities prepared from tape recordings and transcripts of Sirhan’s initial arrest and interrogation). [1] [2]

In the Ambassador

As Robert Kennedy moved towards Sirhan, witnesses reported a yell - “Kennedy, you son of a bitch!” and then two quick shots. Numerous witnesses saw a smiling Sirhan holding a pistol, others saw RFK slump after the initial shots. After the first two shots, Karl Uecker leaped towards Sirhan, grabbing his gun hand and pushing him back on the steam table.

Freddy Plimpton described Sirhan: “...his eyes were narrow, the lines on his face were heavy and set and he was completely concentrated on what he was doing.” It was a look of “intense concentration.” Plimpton heard two rapid shots, then a pause, then three more shots.

“I immediately grabbed the gun hand of the assailant and pushed him onto the steam table. During this time he, the assailant, continued to fire the gun,” reported maitre’d Karl Uecker.

Edward Mininsian, at RFK’s right front and a little ahead of Uecker, pushed Uecker and Sirhan against the steam table. “I saw the fellow behind the Senator fall (that was Paul Schrade, shot in the top of the head), then the Senator fell.”

Even with his hand pinned, Sirhan continued to fire. Four more bystanders were wounded. Shortly there were half a dozen men wrestling with Sirhan, one jumped on the steam table and stomped on his gun hand. The gun squired loose on the floor – even then, covered by bodies, Sirhan managed to seize the gun again and the struggle continued. Finally Roosevelt Grier managed to twist the weapon away from Sirhan.

Sirhan Sirhan in custody
Sirhan Sirhan in custody.

As more men rushed to pummel and beat at Sirhan, Jesse Unruh moved to prevent mob retaliation against him. Unruh then began trying to establish some sort of order in the pantry as others continued to struggle with Sirhan.

Joseph La Hive managed to get Sirhan’s feet off the floor, twisting his leg. Sirhan told him “stop, you’re hurting my leg!”

By that time Grier, at 290 pounds, had pinned Sirhan to the table; Unruh, Grier and Rafer Johnson continued to fight off people milling around him. Finally two policemen arrived accompanied by Unruh, led Sirhan out of the pantry and to a police car outside the west door of the hotel. Unruh jumped in the car along with Sirhan. Witnesses in the pantry reported Sirhan had either a smirk or a sort of smile on his face as RFK approached him -in the patrol car, officer Placencia felt that Sirhan’s expression was “smirky.”

Placencia noted that Sirhan’s eyes were dilated, suggesting either that he had been drinking or was possibly on some sort of drug. Witnesses to Sirhan’s drinking at the hotel would turn up later, Sirhan had indeed been drinking to at least some extent prior to entering the pantry. [3]

In police custody

Placencia read Sirhan his rights and Sirhan responded that he understood them and wished to remain silent. Upon arrival at the station, Sirhan was searched. He carried no billfold, no identification at all. The lack of a billfold or any sort of ID concerned police from the very beginning. Chief Houghton notes, in Special Unit Senator, that in a crime of passion its unusual to find the attacker taking the time to strip themselves of all forms of ID. [4] Among the items taken from Sirhan’s jeans were four $100 bills, a car key and a copy of a May 26 Pasadena Independent Star-News article by David Lawrence; the column discussed RFK’s opposition to the Vietnam war and his support for Israel. In addition, there was a copy of a newspaper advertisement for an RFK rally at the Ambassador hotel.

The Krantz report noted that Sirhan had only $500 left over from a $1,750 workmen's compensation settlement paid to him only months before the assassination (the claim went back to his fall from a horse in mid-1966). The money was allegedly being held by Sirhan's mother and he “withdrew” almost all of it shortly before or on the actual day of the assassination.

During the police search, Sirhan winced when his leg was touched. He told Sergeant Johnson that he had previously mentioned that his leg hurt. And he gave Johnson the complete badge number for the officer whom he had mentioned it to, demonstrating that during his arrest and transport Sirhan was alert enough to his surroundings to memorize the officer’s badge number.

Detectives joined Sirhan in the station homicide room, other officers came and went. Sirhan refused to answer any type of question, including his identity. Then Sergeant Patchett tried to probe him….”Are you ashamed of your name?”

Sirhan responded to that, loudly and clearly, he said “Hell No!”

Mug shots of Sirhan Sirhan
Mug shots of Sirhan Sirhan.

Shortly before 2 a.m., Doctor Lanz examined Sirhan in those areas where Sirhan complained of pain. Sirhan refused to tell the physician his name, and the physician told the officers present that Sirhan was not in need of any immediate medical treatment but that Sirhan should keep as much weight as possible off his left ankle as it was probably sprained.

At this time Chief Deputy District Attorney Lynn Compton and Deputy District Attorney John Howard arrived, as did members of the District Attorney’s investigative staff. In an interrogation room, Howard asked Sirhan his name. Sirhan did not answer, and at that time Sirhan and was advised by Howard of his constitutional rights. Sirhan nodded in the direction of Sergeant Jordon and stated ‘I will stand by my original decision to remain silent." Sirhan asked no questions as to why he had been arrested and demonstrated no curiosity about recent events.

During Sergeant Jordon’s various contacts with Sirhan, including the four to five hours he spent with Sirhan at the arraignment and immediately prior and subsequent thereto, Sirhan never appeared irrational. While refusing to identify himself by name or place of origin, Sirhan engaged in banter with Sergeant Jordon. Jordon formed the opinion that Sirhan had a ‘very quick mind’, and that Sirhan was ‘one of the most alert and intelligent persons’ the officer had ever interrogated or attempted to interrogate during his 15 years experience on the police force.”

Around 3:15 police officers took Sirhan to Interrogation Room No. 1. Howard and Jordan began an interview with their superiors watching through the one way mirror.

Sirhan’s first remarks were about his concerns with the clothing he had been given and his appearance. And he was willing to talk – his subject of choice being a prior murder case (Kirschke), one in which the death penalty was reduced to life in prison. Within only two hours of the attack on RFK, Sirhan wanted to talk about crime and punishment in the California legal system. He also wanted to discuss the fairness of the death penalty.

Sirhan’s conversation included his concern over his pants and appearance. However, he also expressed his concern for the officers – when Howard asked him why Sirhan was laughing he replied, “Your predicament. You’re fencing.”

A few minutes later Sirhan asked the time and was told it was twenty minutes to four. “I’m allowed seventy-two hours before I’m brought before a magistrate.” He had done some homework but was a bit off, Jordan corrected him; it was actually forty-eight.

Shortly after 4 a.m. Jordan and Murphey tried again, trying to probe Sirhan with his interest in the Kirschke case. After expressing his idea that truth and falsehood are relative, Sirhan began to lead them again, prompting Jordon to comment that he thought Sirhan was sharp; “You’re sharp, you’re very sharp.”

Later, Murphey would tell Sirhan that he thought Sirhan was “sort of matching wits with us.” Sirhan quickly diverted the exchange to names of racehorses. Then he told them that if he talked too much they “might lose interest in the mystery.” The Detectives got a good laugh out of that.

By four-thirty in the morning the interrogating officers were ready to challenge Sirhan because the key in his possession had been matched to what they believed was his car, parked outside the hotel. Sirhan found this to be very amusing since by coincidence his key had opened a different car than his (that of a hotel waiter) and obtained a name from it. The follow exchange occurred between officer Jordan and Sirhan:

Jordan: “Okay, Let me just have you try this on for size.....What about Robert Eugene Gendroz or Jendroz?

Sirhan: “Well, that’s a good name – Jendroz.”

Jordan: “I think--I think we’re in pay dirt now, Roberto or Bob?”

Sirhan: “That’s a nice name.”

Jordan: “It’s a nice name, and your car?”

Sirhan: “Cadillac?”

Jordan: “No.”

Sirhan: “Rolls Royce?”

Jordan: “Not--you're not far off. You're in the same general area."


Jordan "How about a Chrysler?”

Sirhan: “Beautiful.”

(more discussion of cars)

Sirhan: “Wonderful. The mystery is beginning to unfold now, huh?”

The officers chided Sirhan that they were police and should be able to come up with something…it was their job….

“You’re God damn right, Sirhan responded, slowly but surely, you’re driving there…you’ll get there.”

Sirhan’s interrogators never made any progress with him, no name, no identification, no sign that he was doing anything but playing games with them. In turn he showed no curiosity over what had happened – none at all. The only interests he displayed were in regard to past criminal cases and how the police were progressing with trying to find out something, anything, about him. The only concern he displayed during a several hour period was about his clothing and how he would look when he went for arraignment; he seemed very much aware that he would be charged and asked no questions about that subject at all.

It should be mentioned that Sirhan did eventually request legal counsel. A prominent ACLU member, A. L. Wirin, did appear to counsel Sirhan. Sirhan did talk to the lawyer initially but was taken aback when he found he was Jewish. Wirin did not legally represent Sirhan but did meet with him over a limited period of time. He also held a press conference in which he stated that a request had been made to the California Bar Association to appoint a “name” attorney to represent Sirhan, such attorney to be agreeable to Sirhan himself. Wirin eventually went on record stating that Sirhan had told him he had indeed shot Senator Kennedy; there is no corroboration for his statement and it certainly seems inconsistent with Sirhan’s dialog with the police. [5]

Sirhan’s reliability in court

Over the course of his legal process, Sirhan’s lawyers, Robert Kaiser (working with the defense team and writing a book on Sirhan in the process) and a host of psychiatrists would share the same frustration as the police interrogators. Virtually all of them would catch Sirhan in lies, would observe his ability to manipulate those around him and his control of his own outbursts in court in an attempt to influence the judge and the trial. Kaiser experienced one such incident when the death of President Eisenhower was noted in the court room and time given to silent prayer. Kaiser asked Sirhan how he had felt about the news.

Sirhan responded, “I was saddened, I was really moved.”

Kaiser told Sirhan that was “bullshit” as he had seen Sirhan fiddling around and looking at the clock, the only person in the room with his eyes open. Sirhan smiled back at Kaiser and pointed out that Kaiser must have had his eyes open too.

On one occasion, Sirhan made an obvious slip. Jesus Perez, a kitchen helper, and waiter Martin Petrusky stated that RFK had passed through the pantry area behind the Embassy ballroom shortly before midnight on his way to speak to the campaign workers. Perez and Petrusky stated that they saw Sirhan in the pantry at this time and stated that Sirhan had asked if RFK would be “coming back through this way.” They both replied that they did not know and stated that Sirhan had remained there, standing near Perez at the corner of a serving table.

Sirhan remarked to Kaiser that he had never done nor said any such thing. Kaiser reminded him that he supposedly remembered nothing of events in the pantry. Sirhan made no further comment. Kaiser also observed that, during the trial, legal cunning pleased Sirhan more than almost anything. Sirhan consciously controlled his outbursts in the courtroom, at one point asking of his lawyers “should I flip now?”

During his trial, Kaiser also privately pushed Sirhan about his real motivation, asking if he was the Arab patriot that he was being portrayed as during his trial. Sirhan’s response was simple:

“Well, the shot was expended. I might as well make the best of it.”

A much broader loss of memory

Sirhan’s writings presented a serious problem for his defense and their argument for lack of premeditation. Perhaps the most significant example was that one of the few pages in his notebooks which could be dated (May 18, 1968) specifically stated that RFK must die. But beyond that, his notebooks covered a broad range of subjects and had entries ranging over a number of years, all the way back to his time in college. They contained classroom notes, commentary from reading various books and personal remarks on everything from his goals and jobs to girls.

One set of writings, most probably done in June of 1967, contain a well written “Declaration of war against American humanity”, in revenge for its inhuman actions against him. He planned to begin the war when he had raised sufficient money and acquired firearms. The writings discuss acting against the president and other senior leaders of the United States and he believed that there were others who supported such thoughts. Specifically, he wished to be recorded by history as the man who triggered the last war. [6]

One of his defense psychologists, Dr. Marcus, asked Sirhan about the notebooks and Sirhan “had no recollection of writing anything in the notebooks.” That included his schoolwork and other things such as his repetitive writing of the name Peggy Osterkamps (the name of a girl he had worked with and clearly admired). The time span in which he was denying any memory involved a period of approximately five years. [7] And Sirhan was adamant that he could remember none of it, not just the points having to do with politics or with RFK or with 1968, but none of it. [8]

The contents of Sirhan’s notebooks are discussed at length in Kaiser’s work. They demonstrated that Sirhan clearly had thought about political assassinations (entries from his college period) as well as about killing U.S. presidents. And Sirhan had specifically and at length written about the assassination of Robert Kennedy. “R.F.K. must die”, his repetitive writing even set an absolute date for that death. Kennedy had to die by June 5. The notebooks contain little about his motivation and virtually nothing about the Arab patriotism that was so heavily introduced into his trial. In contrast, they do contain notes about God and religion, his animosity towards Jews and his belief that assassination could trigger a final war. [9]

But the problem with Sirhan’s memory went not only beyond the notebooks, it also included two separate occasions on which he had scribbled notes about killing Robert Kennedy were scribbled across envelopes and pieces of paper. [10] Sirhan could not even recall his signing of his signature on the register at a gun range where he did shooting practice. His response was that he must not have been himself or he would have remembered it. [11]

An abnormal state of mind

Sirhan’s loss of memory and his credibility were major issues in his trial. Defense counsel presented a case largely based on psychological testimony, aimed at rebutting premeditation and establishing that Sirhan was not mentally in control of himself at the time of the shooting. In general, the testimony from the psychologists was not effective with the jury. Doctor Fitts was forced to state that he had diagnosed Sirhan as paranoid before ever meeting him. Doctor Marcus was forced to admit that he could not explain Sirhan’s amnesia or his lack of questioning the police after his arrest. He was also forced to admit that Sirhan might simply be lying. Doctor Diamond presented the theory that Sirhan had acted in a self induced trance, brought about by unique circumstances occurring that evening at the hotel. However, he himself characterized his own theory as “absurd and preposterous, unlikely and incredible” even as he commented on indications of disassociate trances, mystical occultism and hypnosis in his work with Sirhan. [12]

Doctor Diamond was the only expert witness to offer any sort of coherent explanation for Sirhan’s act and consequent loss of memory; none of the psychologists could explain his claimed loss of memory in regard to years worth of material in his notebooks, the notes, the gun range register.

Robert Kaiser reached the conclusion that Sirhan had indeed placed himself in some sort of highly focused “trance”, the result of an intense focus and resolve directed towards the Senator. He felt Sirhan had set a deadline for his action when he had written that RFK must die by June 5th. [13] Others have offered the possibility that Sirhan was manipulated by experts in sophisticated mind control techniques. Klaber and Melanson maintain that Sirhan’s writing was done “in an abnormal state of mind” and therefore should not be used to construe any premeditation on his part. [14]

Sirhan Sirhan in 1997
Sirhan Sirhan in 1997.

Irrespective of any final judgment on Sirhan’s personal credibility and claims about his extensive loss of memory, there is little doubt that some of his writing was done in an abnormal state of mind. Certain of his notebook entries were done in highly repetitive fashion, very suggestive of automatic writing, a technique that does involve auto-suggestion and visualization, suggesting Sirhan had practiced a form of self hypnosis and did have the ability to force himself into a trance like state. Research into Sirhan’s activities disclosed considerable evidence that he had indeed been highly interested in the occult, had appeared at a Theosophical Society meeting and studied its literature, joined the Rosicrucians and studied their literature and practices (which included auto-hypnosis and how to achieve goals by visualization-like techniques) and at the time of the assassination had a book by Manley Hall, founder of the Philosophical Research Society and a master hypnotist. [15]

As early as 1965, Sirhan had become extremely close to an individual who would remain one of his best friends, Tom Rathke. Rathke was very much interested in the occult and aided Sirhan in experimenting with meditation and discussing astral projection. Rathke apparently observed that Sirhan had an almost mystical power with horses and was possibly communicating with them via thought waves. Sirhan began applying occult principals to his work with the horses, trying to mentally cause a favorite to win races, practicing telekinesis at home with string weights and candles and finally convincing himself that he had made his boss’s horse crash into a wall (this boss had dismissed him from his stable job). Eventually Sirhan would write in his notebooks that “I believe that I can effect the death of Bert C. Altfillisch.” [16]

Clearly Sirhan had a history of occult practice, of attempts at visualization and trance-like activities. There seems to be little real mystery about his repetitive writings and his practice of attempting to influence the world through mental practices. And there is evidence that it was not all of a positive nature, beginning with his efforts directed against his former boss and going on to darker goals. Goals which were known to his long-time mentor Tom Rathke.

A friend of the Sirhan family, Lynn Mangan, learned from Sirhan’s mother that after the assassination she had found a letter,which she had hidden from police. The letter had been written from Rathke to Sirhan that he should stop practicing his self-hypnosis and rituals; if he did not stop he might lose control of himself and “something terrible” might happen. [17] We will review the police and FBI investigation of Rathke in the following chapter; he was known to him and they did track him down for interviews. Needless to say, those interviews did not force out any mention of his hidden warning to Sirhan.

There seems little doubt that Sirhan was in an “abnormal state of mind” when he attacked Senator Kennedy. Whether or not “abnormal” implies “disassociated” and totally unaware of the act of pulling out and firing his pistol remains an open question. However, the larger issue is Sirhan's broader memory loss. Clearly, he would have good reason to deny recalling his notebook entries about political assassinations, about killing U.S. presidents and about his declaration of war. He would have even more reason not to confirm his entries about the death of R.F.K. His acknowledgement of those would have been a clear acceptance of premeditation and an argument for the death penalty.

Beyond that, acknowledging participation in any sort of a conspiracy would also have confirmed premeditation. Recalling or discussing his involvement with others in any prior activities relating to the Senator would have been had a similar effect. If the witnesses and incidents we have discussed in prior essays are factual, if Serrano and the Bernsteins saw and heard what they reported, if Sirhan had been involved with other people that evening or even for weeks before, acknowledging it would have negated any claims that he had acted on impulse, regardless of any “disassociation” he may have experienced during the actual attack.

Refusing to admit to the existence of others may have been a painful decision for Sirhan, especially if at some point he fully realized that he had been manipulated – with or without some form of hypnotism, psycho-drugs or psychological influence. On the other hand, any reader of Kaiser’s book is likely to recognize Sirhan as an individual who consistently tried to maintain a degree of control, under virtually any circumstances. His unpredictable courtroom actions provide numerous examples of such behavior, even when he placed his legal defense in jeopardy. Perhaps acknowledging that he had been “played” or “used” by people he had trusted – that he had been played for a sucker - would have been even more painful than going it alone?

The core question in the Senator’s death remains whether or not he was killed as part of a conspiracy rather than by a lone nut. Focusing strictly on Sirhan and his mental state leaves us in the same state of vagueness and psychological morass which pervaded most of his trial. Sirhan is in prison. The individuals who appear to have been associating with him and “pulling his strings” are not. [18] That unsatisfactory situation leads us back to the more important issue – the other people.

Next in the Incomplete Justice series - Part Six: "I don't know any other people..."


[1] Robert Blair Kaiser, R.F.K. Must Die!, 1970.

[2] The Report of Thomas F. Kranz on the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy (Kranz Report), available as an exhibit to the 1992 Request to the Los Angeles County Grand Jury.

Large sections of the Krantz Report were literally lifted by the FBI and inserted into the FBI file on the Robert Kennedy assassination. It was apparently viewed as something the FBI could issue to the public in response to inquiries.

The LA County Board of Supervisors had appointed Thomas Kranz as Special Counsel to do an independent investigation of the RFK assassination on 8/12/75. In March 1977 Kranz, acting as Special Counsel to the LA County DA’s Office published the report, copies of which were also sent to the FBI.

The reports Foreward (sic), signed by Thomas F. Kranz, states that the report presents his “observations and conclusions” regarding his investigation of the RFK assassination. Kranz observes that there had been “unwarranted speculation that delay in issuance of this report has resulted from changes being made” in it; he denies this as “false” and claims sole responsibility for the contents of the report.

“Research for the report was conducted from January to March 1976.“

The report was written from March to May 1976 and dictation tapes were

delivered to the District Attorney's Office for typing. "The first draft (which is available for inspection) was reorganized and checked for factual error, typographical errors, and grammatical errors from May to August 1976. A second draft was then prepared and proof read. From this second draft a final copy was prepared for reproduction. Due to cutbacks in the District Attorney's Office, this final process took about seven months. Secretaries were simply not available to work full time on the project."

The first two pages detail the circumstances of Kranz’s appointment. In mid-July 1975 Kranz had discussions with Acting District Attorney John Howard (DA Joseph Busch had died and the discussions were nominally about the likelihood of Howard’s being approved to replace him), in which Kranz had stated, “I have always had some degree of reservation concerning the Robert Kennedy case. With all respect to Joe Busch, I feel there are a lot of unanswered questions.”

CBS and victim Paul Schrade had filed lawsuits seeking the examination and testing of the Sirhan trial exhibits. Following this, Kranz was deputized as a deputy district attorney on 14 August 1975 and appointed "to insure a fresh independent look at the entire matter and controversy surrounding the death of Senator Kennedy."

"The problem...was not the validity of the verdict in the Sirhan case, but the erosion of public confidence in the system of justice in Los Angeles County due to the many questions that were continually being raised in the Sirhan matter....Kranz was to independently review all the previous evidence, transcripts, interviews, and documents relating to the Sirhan case, and make his own independent investigation into the assassination...."

Kranz was mandated to conduct a full and complete independent investigation, however it appears that he completed his assignment in no more than 90 days.

Immediately upon appointment, Kranz and Deputy District Attorney Dinko Bozanich appeared before Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Wenke to represent the DA's office in the matter of the CBS and Schrade lawsuits. Wenke ordered a re-testing of the Sirhan weapon and the re-examination of all ballistics evidence of the trial; Kranz’s report emphasizes this was not a total re-opening of the case or a re-investigation, but a specifically limited inquiry into the ballistics evidence of the case.

Krantz’s work has to be viewed with some concern even though he did criticize the work done by criminalist DeWayne Wolfer in the original investigation – work which was heavily used by the prosecution in Sirhan’s trial. In particular, his conclusions are limited by the very brief duration of his actual investigation, his failure to explore any of the significant issues raised during the time since the assassination, and for Krantz’s own interview techniques. His apparent attempt to manipulate and potentially intimidate Schulman is described in a prior chapter and by Melanson on pp. 135-6 of Shadow Play. On the positive side, his report is a consolidated and apparently accurate reference for the observations of police and law enforcement officers as well as for their trial testimony.

[3] Kaiser, RFK Must Die!, pp. 436-437; Gonzalo Carillo-Cretina, a waiter, saw Sirhan with a drink, Hans Bidstrup, an Ambassador electrician saw Sirhan with a half empty glass in his hand, Enrique Rabago saw him drinking from a glass and felt him to be “educated and arrogant”. He had told Rabago not to worry if Senator Kennedy didn’t win, Kennedy was a “son of a bitch” and a millionaire and even if he won he wouldn’t do anything for the poor people. Sirhan had had a highball glass in his hand and seemed “pretty disgusted” with the party.

[4] Houghton, Special Unit Senator, p. 89.

[5] FBI memo; SAC LA, June 11, 1968, Subject: KENSALT; also DiEugenio and Pease, The Assassinations, p. 573-574.

[6] Kaiser, RFK Must Die!, p. 170.

[7] IBID, p. 160.

[8] Klaber and Melanson, Shadow Play, p. 208.

[9] Kaiser, RFK Must Die!, pp. 326-331; pp. 450-551; p. 471; notebook entries on pp. 550, 554, 560 and 578. It should be noted that Sirhan even told Doctor Pollack that he expected that he would get only two years in prison (Kaiser, p. 471).

[10] IBID, p. 446 and p. 89; Police recovered an Argonaut Insurance envelope (the company paying Sirhan’s limited disability from his jockey accident) from a trashcan in the rear of Sirhan’s home. Repetitive doodling on the envelope in Sirhan’s handwriting read:

“RFK must be be be disposed of d d d disposed disposed d disposed of properly Robert

Fitzgerald Kennedy must soon die, die die die die die die die.”

An empty IRS envelope was also retrieved from Sirhan’s bedroom, on it was written:

“RFK must be disposed of like his brother was.”

[11] IBID, pp. 214-215.

[12] Klaber and Melanson, Shadow Play, Richardson on p. 230, Marcus, p. 236 and Diamond on pages 246, 251 and 253.

[13] Kaiser, RFK Must Die!, p. 535.

[14] Klaber and Melanson, Shadow Play, p.217. [editor's note: Some commentators have pointed out that June 5, Sirhan's target date, was the date of the California primary, RFK's best chance to provide his candidacy the momentum in his unlikely battle to unseat Hubert Humphrey. But it should also be pointed out that June 5 was the start of the Six-Day War between Israel and Syria just the previous year, 1967].

[15] Turner and Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, pp. 224-225.

[16] Kaiser, RFK Must Die!, pp. 190-191 and 205-209.

[17] Turner and Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, p. 217.

[18] Kaiser, RFK Must Die!, p. 80; After his arrest and when leaving his initial police interrogation for an appearance before the magistrate, Sirhan traded compliments with Detective Foster. Sirhan had taken Foster to the point where Foster commented that perhaps Sirhan was merely a victim of circumstance. Sirhan responded – “We’re all puppets.” See transcript of taped interview with Officer Foster and others of 5 Jun 1968, p. 17.

The Incomplete Justice series

Part One: At the Ambassador Hotel

Part Two: Stalking RFK?

Part Three: "They are all fibbing..."

Part Four: "No there were no other guns...

Part Five: Mind Games?

Part Six: "I don't know any other people..."


Sirhan's Demeanor

Freddy Plimpton FBI interview of 27 Jul 1968: “...his eyes were narrow, the lines on his face were heavy and set and he was completely concentrated on what he was doing.”

Karl Uecker FBI interview of 7 Jun 1968: “I immediately grabbed the gun hand of the assailant and pushed him onto the steam table. During this time he, the assailant, continued to fire the gun.”

Edward Mininsian LAPD interview of 18 Jun 1968: "I saw the fellow behind the Senator fall (that was Paul Schrade, shot in the top of the head), then the Senator fell."

Transcript of recorded LAPD interview of Joseph LaHive of 5 Jun 1968. LaHive described struggling with Sirhan and pulling his left leg up.

Sirhan B. Sirhan's Arrest and Arraignment, including Officer Placencia's observation that Sirhan's pupils were "dilated."

In Police Custody

Kranz Report, p. 6, noting Sirhan's possessions at the time of arrest.

Trial of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, p. 5320, cross examination of Sirhan regarding his telling Officer Jordan the badge number of another officer from memory.

FBI interview of 7 Jun 1968 of LAPD officer whose name is redacted (presumably Patchett) regarding Sirhan's not divulging his name during questioning.

LAPD interview of Dr. Lanz of 23 Sep 1968. Lanz examined Sirhan at 2 AM after Sirhan was brought in by LAPD.

Kranz Report, p. 7, noting Sirhan's statement that "‘I will stand by my original decision to remain silent."

Trial of Sirhan B. Sirhan, p. 4448. Lieutenant Jordan on Sirhan: "one of the most alert, intelligent witnesses I have ever interrogated."

Transcript of recorded LAPD interview of Sirhan B. Sirhan of 5 Jun 1968, 3:15AM, p. 17. Sirhan: "Your predicament, you're fencing."

Transcript of recorded LAPD interview of Sirhan B. Sirhan of 5 Jun 1968, 3:15AM, pp. 59-64. Sirhan's bantering about his identity and his car: "...Wonderful. The mystery is beginning to unfold now, huh?"

FBI memo; SAC LA, June 11, 1968, Subject: KENSALT, regarding ACLU Attorney Wirin's press conference.

Sirhan's Writing

Excerpts from Declaration of War Against American Humanity. in opening statement of trial.

Argonaut Insurance envelope recovered from a trashcan in the rear of Sirhan’s home. Repetitive doodling on the envelope in Sirhan’s handwriting read: “RFK must be be be disposed of d d d disposed disposed d disposed of properly Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy must soon die, die die die die die die die.”

Empty IRS envelope retrieved from Sirhan’s bedroom, on it was written: “RFK must be disposed of like his brother was.”

Sirhan's State of Mind

Trial of Sirhan B. Sirhan, p. 7190. Question to Dr. Diamond: "Doctor, in your summation which you read aloud you said, with reference now to the whole diagnosis I believe of Sirhan, you said: 'I agree that this is an absurd and preposterous story, unlikely and incredible.' You said that, didn't you." Dr. Diamond replied: "Yes, I did say it." Q: "Who were you agreeing with?", Dr. Diamond: "I agreed with the world."

Walter Tom Rathke LAPD interview of 18 Feb 1969. See also Rathke FBI interview of 13 Jun 1968.

Trial of Sirhan B. Sirhan, p. 7945, referencing People's Exhibit 71-47: "I believe that I can effect the death of Bert C. Altfillisch."

Transcript of recorded LAPD interview of Sirhan B. Sirhan of 5 Jun 1968, 6AM, p. 7. Sirhan: "We're all puppets."

Document Collections

Special Unit Senator LAPD Collection. Microfilmed files of the LAPD's Special Unit Senator investigation, plus later hearings on the RFK case.

FBI LAFO Files. FBI Los Angeles Field Office files.

Sirhan Sirhan Trial Transcript. Transcript of court proceedings, including pre-trial hearings, trial testimony, and closing arguments.

Appeal Documents. Court filings and other documents related to the appeal of Sirhan Sirhan's murder conviction and death sentence.

Request to Los Angeles County Grand Jury. 1992 request for investigation based on issues arising from release of LAPD files.

Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Petition for a new trial for Sirhan Sirhan, submitted by the late attorney Lawrence Teeter.

Report on the Medicolegal Investigation of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Autopsy report by coroner Thomas Noguchi.

See all RFK Assassination Documents.

Books of Interest

    "R.F.K. Must Die!": A History of the Robert Kennedy Assassination and Its Aftermath
Robert Blair Kaiser
E.P. Dutton and Co., 1970
    The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
Jonn G. Christian and William G. Turner
Random House, 1978
    Shadow Play
William Klaber and Philip H. Melanson
St. Martin's Press, 1997
    The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X
James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, editors
Feral House, 2003
    The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination
Philip H. Melanson
Shapolsky Publishers, Inc., 1991
    Special Unit Senator
Robert A. with Taylor Houghton, Theodore
Random House, 1970

See all RFK books.


Sirhan Sirhan: A True "Manchurian Candidate", by Lawrence Teeter.

Sirhan Sirhan: Assassin of Modern U.S. History, by Denise Noe.

Was Robert Kennedy Killed by a Real 'Manchurian Candidate'-Style Assassin?, by London Independent.

The Real Manchurian Candidate, by Carl Kozlowski.

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination, Part I: The Grand Illusion, by Lisa Pease.

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination, Part II: Rubik's Cube, by Lisa Pease.

See all RFK essays.

Other Links

The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archives Collection. This archive at the University of Massachusetts was created by Professor Philip Melanson, who wrote several books on the assassinations of the 1960s.

California State Archives: Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation Records. The California State Archives holds the physical evidence of the crime as well as voluminous reports.

Real History Archives - RFK Assassination. Lisa Pease website includes essays on political assassinations, including RFK's.

Sirhan's longtime research Rose Lynn Mangan has a website devoted to the case, with many scanned primary source materials.

© Mary Ferrell Foundation. All Rights Reserved. |Site Map |MFF Policies |Contact Us