President Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, formed the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination. Subsequent investigating bodies – like the Ramsey Clark Panel (1968), the Rockefeller Commission (1975), the Church Committee ( whose report was made public in 2011), and the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979) also looked into the assassination.
The number of books and investigative media reports written about the assassination of Kennedy is estimated to be in the range of “1000 to 2000”.
Out of this mountain of investigations, and often conflicting testimonies, three principal theories have emerged:
1. Lone gunman, no conspiracy theory.
2. Lone gunman, with conspiracy theory.
3. Two gunmen, with conspiracy theory.
Lone Gunman, No Conspiracy Theory
The Warren Commission posited the first theory. The Warren Commission relied on oral testimonies as well as the official investigation reports of the FBI and the Dallas Police. The Warren Commission findings were later supported by the Ramsey Clark Panel and the Rockefeller Commission.
The Warren Commission concluded that former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and wounding Texas Governor John Connally. The Warren Commission further concluded that night club owner Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald two days later.
Public opinion polls have consistently shown that as many as 70 per cent of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. However, these polls show lack of agreement as to who else may have been involved.
The majority public opinion may have been influenced by the Church Committee whose report was made publicly available in 2011. The Church Committee blasted the investigation reports submitted by the FBI and CIA as “fundamentally deficient”. The Church Committee also alleged that “the facts which have greatly affected the investigation had not been forwarded to the Warren Commission by the agencies.”
Lone Gunmen, with Conspiracy
Among the proponents of this view is Secretary of State John Kerry.
In an interview conducted by Tom Brokaw of NBC in 2013, Kerry said he doesn't believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Kerry also faulted government investigation which didn't 'get to the bottom' of the assassination. Kerry thinks “that the shooter was influenced.” Kerry suggests “it has something to do with the time Oswald spent in the Soviet Union and his connections to communist sympathizers.” Kerry, however, does not support the 'grassy knoll' (Two Gunmen) theory or the idea that the CIA was involved.
Two Gunmen, with Conspiracy
This is the conclusion reached by the US House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Robert Kennedy, Jr., son of the late US Attorney General who himself was later assassinated, also shares this view.
In a 2013 interview with the Daily Mail Report, Robert Kennedy, Jr. said that while his father Attorney General Robert Kennedy publicly supported the Warren Commission, the elder Kennedy privately felt that its report was a "shoddy piece of craftsmanship."
The third theory questions the ability of Oswald to fire on a moving target three successive shots (with two of them hitting Kennedy) using a bolt-action rifle all within a time span of 4.8 to 5.6 seconds. One of the two bullets supposedly also hit Texas Governor John Connally who was seated in front of Kennedy. (The single bullet theory)
Jesse Ventura, former navy SEAL and former Minnesotta Governor, simulated the conditions under which Oswald supposedly shot Kennedy. His conclusion: no way it could have been done by a single gunman. The proponents of this theory also question why a number of material witnesses very close to the scene of the shooting were never invited by the Warren Commission to testify. These witnesses claimed to have heard shots fired from the “grassy knoll”, suggesting at least a second gunman.
If the assassination was the product of a conspiracy, then who else were responsible?
As if to complicate the situation further, in 2013, lawyer-author Vincent Bugliosi made a compilation of individuals and groups who may have possible links to the Kennedy assasination. Based on various “investigative reports”, Bugliosi came up with a “suspect list” consisting of a total of 42 groups, including 5 countries, and 82 possible assassins. 214 people, including a former US President, were also implicated.