Did Bobby Kennedy murder Marilyn Monroe with poison?
Did Bobby Kennedy murder Marilyn Monroe with poison? Shocking theory claims an ultra-secret LAPD file names JFK’s brother as the killer – and a Hollywood actor watched it all unfold
The claims are hard to believe… but the source is so solid and credible that you will find this amazing story hard to dismiss. A Los Angeles policeman says an ultra-secret Police Department file names JFK’s brother Bobby Kennedy as the killer of Marilyn Monroe — and actor Peter Lawford confessed to the cop that he watched the murder unfold…
When Marilyn Monroe shrugged off her ermine wrap and handed it to actor Peter Lawford, live on television at Madison Square Garden, she created a moment of pure theatrical Viagra.
The 35-year-old star was revealed at the microphone in a skin-tight, rhinestone encrusted gown that made her appear almost naked. It drew a gasp of shocked appreciation from the audience at an early birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy, in May 1962.
The custom-made, flesh-coloured design by Jean Louis had more than 2,500 hand-stitched crystals, and was so snug that Marilyn had to be sewn into it. She sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ in a voice aching with eroticism. One journalist described it as ‘making love to the President in the direct view of 40 million Americans’.
During a party at the home of movie executive Arthur Krim, American actress Marilyn Monroe stands between Robert Kennedy (left) and John F. Kennedy in New York,
JFK’s birthday surprise: Peter Lawford introduces Monroe — before her wrap fell away to reveal her skin-tight dress. One journalist described it as ‘making love to the President in the direct view of 40 million Americans’.
At the post-gala party, in a New York penthouse suite provided by a Hollywood studio boss, she danced five times with JFK’s brother Bobby, the U.S. Attorney-General.
But she left with President Kennedy and went via a basement corridor and a private elevator to his suite at the next-door Carlyle Hotel. Next day, she returned to California.
Lawford, who was married to the President’s sister Pat, telephoned Marilyn later that week from his home in the Kennedy compound, Hyannis Port. He had a brutal message: she was being cut off. She would never see the President again and she must never try to contact him.
Less than three months later, she would be dead. An inquest ruled that she probably killed herself, but for nearly 60 years many people have suspected she was murdered.
But now, fomer LA policeman Mike Rothmiller has decided to reveal what he claims is the extraordinary truth: that secret documents he found in LAPD archives show that Marilyn Monroe was assassinated to protect the Kennedy clan.
More sensational still, it was Bobby Kennedy himself who gave Marilyn the poisoned drink that killed her — while Peter Lawford stood and watched it happen.
When Rothmiller put the facts to Lawford, 20 years later, the actor broke down and confessed. But the story has been suppressed for 40 years, because the cover-up went far beyond the Kennedys.
The cop stayed silent for decades, fearing for his life as long as senior police officers from the era were still alive and able to threaten him and his family. Forty years on, he is still nervous about revealing what he knows, and he still takes precautions, still keeps his findings and documentation in safe places.
But now, and with the blessing of his wife Nancy, he has decidied it is time the world knows what he has discovered. He says with confidence: ‘If I presented my evidence in any court of law, I’d get a conviction.’
Rothmiller’s source material is as sensational as his claims. It calls on secret L.A. police files as well as eye witness testimony from a Beverly Hills traffic policeman. The story, he believes, nearly cost him his own life.
On a hot night in August 1982 — just weeks, he says, after Lawford told him what really happened — the former policeman was the target of a mob-style assassination bid. A gunman on a motorcycle pulled up alongside his unmarked car and opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol.
Rothmiller was hit in the back and side, and suffered spinal damage which he barely survived.
Four years earlier, aged 27, he was the youngest detective in the city’s Organised Crime Intelligence Division [OCID]. With six years’ experience on the force, he was assigned to desk duties in the department’s information trove nicknamed Fort Davis — a bomb-proof labyrinth of filing cabinets in a downtown building with no windows.
Tens of thousands of files were held there: rumour, fact, supposition and gossip on everyone from crime bosses to politicians, actors to rock stars, newspaper reporters to television presenters. Much of the information was unrelated to any crimes — it was simply background on anyone who had ever crossed the path of the OCID. Their sole job was to collect potentially embarrassing intelligence that might later be used as leverage in criminal investigations.
Intrigued, Rothmiller began to browse the files of famous names. Discovering the filing system code, Rothmiller opened the ‘K’ cabinet and plucked out Jack Kennedy’s folder. This, he saw, was cross-referenced with Marilyn’s file as well as many others, including mob bosses. There were 40 or 50 linked cards, each referencing dozens of bulging files.
Following the threads led him to singer and film star Frank Sinatra, and other members of the Rat Pack, such as Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr. Some were marked Cfs, for Confidential Files. Officially, these papers didn’t exist.
Where the files are today, even Rothmiller does not know. OCID was merged with the L.A. police vice division in 1997, and Fort Davis was replaced.
Rothmiller could not make photocopies. His method was to make notes where possible, and to write up his discoveries as soon as he could.
In one confidential file, he found a copy of a document marked ‘Marilyn Monroe’s diary’. Its existence had long been rumoured. Marilyn made no secret of the fact she kept a diary, her ‘little red book’. But as far as showbiz historians knew, it was never found after her death.
According to Rothmiller, the truth was different. The LAPD had a copy — and probably the original too.
Rothmiller turned to the final entries. On August 3, 1962, the day before she died, Marilyn wrote: ‘Peter said Robert will come tomorrow. I don’t know if he will.’
Peter was Lawford, her go-between with the Kennedys. Robert was Bobby, JFK’s brother.
Fomer LA policeman Mike Rothmiller has decided to reveal what he claims is the extraordinary truth: that secret documents he found in LAPD archives show that Marilyn Monroe was assassinated to protect the Kennedy clan. (Pictured, John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Teddy Kennedy in 1960)
Police taking away the remains of American actress Marilyn Monroe found dead at home on August 5, 1962 in Los Angeles
Leafing through the pages, Rothmiller saw Marilyn regarded Bobby Kennedy as something much more than a casual boyfriend. He was married with seven children, and was named America’s Father of the Year in 1962, but the star appeared to believe that he was prepared to leave his wife, Ethel, and marry her.
‘Bobby is gentle,’ she wrote. ‘He listens to me. He’s nicer than John… Bobby says he loves me and wants to marry me. I love him. John hasn’t called. Bobby called.’
A week before her death, Marilyn made an ominous entry in her diary: ‘Frank invited me to the lodge. He said it will be fun. He said never to mention Sam at the lodge. He’s Mafia.’
Frank was Sinatra, Sam was Giancana — head of the Chicago mob. The next entry was confused: ‘Frank, Peter and others were there. Frank said I can’t keep my f****** mouth shut. He told me to get out. I don’t know why he’s treating me this way. What happened to me? I was drunk. I don’t remember. Did I have sex?’
In the days after that, her diary entries were angry: ‘They are not calling back. Bob and John used me. I told Peter they’re ignoring me. I’m not going to stand for that. I’m going to tell everyone about us.’
And, after a phone call to actor and occasional lover Jose Bolanos: ‘I told Jose I’m going to tell the world about them. They used me. I’m not a whore. Jose said don’t tell anyone about this. It’s dangerous.’
Rothmiller scoured the archive for clues. He uncovered rumours that Marilyn had an abortion in mid-July 1962, on Bobby Kennedy’s orders. But the precise sequence of events that ended in her death was still unclear.
What the policeman did know was that Bobby Kennedy was far from the mild-tempered, bookish politician and doting father that he seemed to the world. Among the chorus girls and prostitutes regularly summoned to Lawford’s house for drunken orgies, the Attorney-General was known as a ‘groper’.
He also had a short fuse and a violent streak. At college, he hit another student with a beer bottle, leaving him with a head wound that needed stitches.
And after another fight, when one friend made a sarcastic remark about the Kennedy family, a fellow student recalled: ‘Bobby would have killed him if we hadn’t pulled him off. We had to pry Kennedy’s fingers off his neck.’
All these disjointed scraps might never have been knitted together, if one Saturday in 1982, on his day off, Rothmiller had not paid a chance visit to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, L.A.
A visit to the mansion was something of a busman’s holiday for Rothmiller; it was his job to gather intelligence on the lives of celebrities, sports figures, politicans, the wealthy and Mafia figures. He was taking his wife, Nancy and two of their friends on a tour because he wanted to impress them.
They toured the house, the pool and grotto, the koi ponds and the private zoo. A security director invited them to see a Matisse canvas in the main house.
Next to the painting was a cloakroom, with a TV set blaring. Rothmiller glanced inside and recognised Peter Lawford, slumped in front of the screen. He had so many things to ask Lawford; now fate had provided him with a chance encounter with the last known living person to see Marilyn and, as he knew from the OCID files, Robert Kennedy, that fatal evening.
The actor seemed very drunk, out of it, so seizing the opportunity, the detective slipped his business card into Lawford’s shirt pocket, with the words ‘Call me’ written on the back.
Rothmiller already knew that Robert Kennedy had been in Los Angeles on the day Monroe died, a fact that had been denied for many years by the LAPD. He knew there had been a cover up by the LAPD. But of exactly what, and how?
A week later, Lawford called, wary and paranoid. He seemed convinced that Rothmiller was with the CIA. They arranged to meet at a park off Sunset Boulevard the following Saturday.
Rothmiller said he was investigating the death of Marilyn, and reassured the actor that he was not wearing a ‘wire’ or recording device. He wrote up the interview as soon as he could, from memory.
At first, Lawford gave him the official version, the story he had been telling for 20 years — how the actress called him on the day she died, sounding woozy and low. She asked him to say goodbye to the President for her — ‘and say goodbye to yourself because you’re a nice guy’.
Lawford claimed he called the emergency services. When they arrived at her home in Brentwood, west L.A., she was already dead. ‘That’s not what happened,’ Rothmiller retorted. And when Lawford blustered, he added that he knew the truth… because the LAPD had bugged his home.
The bluff worked. Lawford opened up, revealing every detail of how she died — starting with the horrific events at Sinatra’s lodge party.
The lodge was part of a casino resort owned by Sinatra and the mob, on the border of Nevada and California, at Lake Tahoe. Marilyn flew there for the last weekend in July, on the singer’s private jet.
Lawford was present but kept his distance, he said, following a row with Sinatra. He saw the singer plying Marilyn with alcohol and guessed what was going to happen.
She was carried, semi-conscious, into a back room where she was raped by Giancana. Then she was pawed and abused by a group of men and women. Pictures were taken for potential blackmail material. Some featured her with prostitutes.
When Marilyn woke up, Sinatra bawled her out in public, warning her to say nothing about her affairs with the Kennedys. Then she was left to sleep off her ordeal, and sent home the following day.
But threats, sexual violence and blackmail would not silence Marilyn Monroe. They only made her more angry.
She told anyone who would listen that she was going to tell the truth about the Kennedys. The day before she died, an interview appeared in Life magazine, in which she vowed she did not care if her career ended: ‘Fame will go by, and so long, I’ve had you, fame.’
According to Lawford, Bobby Kennedy decided to pay Marilyn a visit himself. On Saturday August 4, 1962 he flew to LA, where Lawford met him. He phoned the actress from Lawford’s beach house in Santa Monica and the two men drove to her home.
When Kennedy ordered her to hand over her diary, Marilyn lost her temper and started waving a kitchen knife. Lawford placated her and steered Kennedy out of the house.
But they returned in the evening, when Marilyn seemed hazy – under the influence of drink or drugs, though not intoxicated. Once again, the scene quickly became heated. ‘What do I want?’ the actress yelled at Kennedy. ‘What do I want? I don’t want to be treated like a f****** whore and ignored!’
Kennedy, his blood rising, shook his fist in her face. She slapped it away. Seizing her wrists, he swore in her face. She struggled free and slapped him.
While Kennedy searched the house for Marilyn’s diary, Lawford sat with her on the sofa in the living room, trying to calm her. The row simmered and erupted repeatedly, as the Attorney-General upended drawers in search of the red book and Marilyn screamed at him to leave. He kept threatening her, alternately warning her to ‘shut your mouth’ and promising to pay her off. Eventually, Kennedy went into the kitchen and fraught calm descended. Lawford left Marilyn’s side and went to plead with his friend to leave, before neighbours called the police.
Kennedy was stirring a glass of water with a spoon. He appeared to be pouring something into it. Lawford asked what he was doing. ‘Nothing!’ snapped Kennedy.
Marilyn was weeping with her head in her hands when the two men went back into the living room. ‘Drink this, you’ll feel better,’ Kennedy told her. Assuming the water was dosed with a sedative, Lawford encouraged her to drink it. She took a sip, and remarked that it tasted unpleasant.
Kennedy urged her to finish it. Marilyn drained the glass and lay back. Now that she was quiet, both men searched the whole house, but did not find the diary.
When they went back to the living room, Marilyn had not moved. She was leaning back with her head tilted backward and appeared to be sleeping. Kennedy shook her shoulder until a groggy and obviously drugged Marilyn stirred.
Her voice was a whisper, slurred and unintelligible. Kennedy said her name, but she seemed to pass out and didn’t respond.
Lawford asked Kennedy, ‘What did you give her?’ Kennedy stared at her, then turned to Lawford but didn’t answer.
Now she was showing no signs of life. Lawford shook her but her complexion was turning waxen. ‘She’s not breathing,’ he said. ‘What do we do?’
‘Leave her,’ Kennedy said. They went to the door, and were confronted by two men. Lawford thought at first they were neighbours, then realised they were plain-clothes detectives or secret service agents.
For a moment, Lawford thought his career and Bobby Kennedy’s were over. But the politician nodded briefly to the men, who pushed past them into the house.
‘Who are they?’ Lawford demanded as they hurried back to the car. Kennedy didn’t reply. He got into the back of the Lincoln Continental and demanded to be taken to the airport.
Lawford was in shock. He knew Marilyn was not merely ‘out of it’. She was dead. His brain spinning and tumbling with fear, he stopped thinking clearly. He had to drive Bobby Kennedy to the airport but found himself confused as to what direction to go.
The bizarre experience of an L.A. traffic cop confirms this sequence of events and explains what happened next.
Detective Lynn Franklin saw a Lincoln Continental doing 70mph, twice the legal limit, heading east on the city’s Olympic Boulevard, at 12.10am on Sunday August 5.
When he pulled the car over, he recognised Lawford and asked: ‘Pete, what the hell do you think you’re doing?’
‘I’m trying to get the Attorney-General to the airport,’ retorted the actor.
Franklin shone his flashlight into the back of the car. He saw Kennedy: ‘He didn’t look happy,’ he remembered. The cop pointed out they were heading in the wrong direction. ‘I told you, stupid!’ yelled the man in the back.
Detective Franklin — who was one of Beverley Hills Police Department’s most decorated officers — recounted this in his 1999 book The Beverly Hills Murder File. Rothmiller, of course, did not need Franklin’s evidence to know that Robert Kennedy had been in town that day, as it was all a matter of OCID record.
What did intrigue him was that in the years after that incident, Franklin (who has since died) survived two attempts on his life.
For the rest of his life, Bobby Kennedy denied he had been in LA on the night Marilyn Monroe died. At 9am on Sunday August 5, he was not far away however — 310 miles, to be precise, at Sunday mass in a church near San Francisco with his wife and four of their children.
Back at the house in Brentwood, an LAPD search team found the diary, and disposed of the glass that Kennedy gave Marilyn. Her naked body was posed for photographs, both with and without a telephone in her hand.
The print that was released to the press showed her face down, holding the receiver, though post mortem results showed that her corpse lay on its back for some time immediately after death.
The post mortem also showed that sedatives, nembutal and chloral hydrate, were found in her body. But Rothmiller believes that the drink Bobby Kennedy gave her contained a military grade lethal poison, probably supplied to Bobby by the CIA — a substance the toxicology available at the time was too primitive to trace.
Peter Lawford died, an alcoholic wreck, in 1984. Rothmiller has never doubted the truth of his confession.
‘During my years of interviewing victims and interrogating suspects,’ he says, ‘I had only seen this type of response a few times. It was clear he had been carrying the burden of guilt for many years and, in all likelihood, this guilt had destroyed his career and, sadly, him as a human being.
‘But now he appeared comforted and serene, having released the horrible burden he’d been forced to carry.’
Adapted from Bombshell: The Night Bobby Kennedy Killed Marilyn Monroe by Mike Rothmiller and Douglas Thompson, published by Ad Lib on July 8 at £8.99. © Mike Rothmiller and Douglas Thompson 2021
To order a copy for £7.64 (offer valid to 12/7/21; UK P&P free on orders over £20), visit www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193.
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