- John Hinckley Jr., who shot Ronald Reagan in 1981, is
about to be partially released from confinement after testimony from government
psychiatrists. Hinckley's family and the family of President George W.
Bush have long, complicated ties that have been little reported. Hinckley's
brother was scheduled to have dinner at the home of the current President
Bush's brother the day after the assassination attempt.
- Nov. 26, 2003 - John Hinckley Jr., who has been hospitalized
since shooting President Ronald Reagan in 1981, might receive permission
any day from a federal judge to make unsupervised visits to his parents'
home. Hinckley's family and the family of President George W. Bush have
long social, political, and economic ties that have been little reported.
Hinckley's brother was scheduled to have dinner at the home of the current
President Bush's brother the day after the assassination attempt.
- U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman recently said he would
let John W. Hinckley, Jr., make the visits with certain restrictions, but
he first wanted to hear testimony officials at St. Elizabeths Hospital,
where Hinckley is being treated. Today that condition was met when Paul
Montalbano of St. Elizabeths testified that Hinckley is ready for visits
under conditions recommended by government experts.
- Today also, John Hinckley, Jr.'s, bid for unsupervised
visits with his parents received a further boost as two psychiatrists testifying
for the government said the request from the man who shot President Reagan
should be approved but only under more restrictions than previously proposed.
- The families of Ronald Reagan and James Brady, his press
secretary, who received a head wound (and whose wife successfully promoted
the gun-control Brady Bill), have opposed the release. Just after the shooting,
Hinckley's family made an assurance similar to those being made now, saying
through an attorney, "recent evaluations alerted no one to the seriousness
of his condition."
- Hinckley has been confined to the St. Elizabeths Hospital
in Washington, DC, since he shot Reagan three others. The visists would
be to his parents' home in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was tried for the
incident but acquitted by reason of insanity after his lawyer, the legendary
Edward Bennett Williams, argued that Hinckley shot the president to impress
actress Jody Foster.
- Vice president George H.W. Bush, father of the current
president, George Bush, Jr., assumed the duties of the presidency briefly
after the shooting and nearly became president as Reagan almost died from
the shooting. A bullet missed his aorta by less than an inch.
- The Bush and Hinckley families go back to the oil-wildcatting
days of the 1960s in Texas. (Ironically, they go back even farther in a
genealogical sense, since the have a common ancestor in Samuel Hinckley,
who lived in the late 1600s.)
- The relationship was much closer between George Bush,
Sr., and John Hinckley, Sr., whose families were neighbors for years in
Houston. John Hinckley, Sr., contributed to the political campaigns of
Bush, Sr., all the way back to Bush's running for Congress, and he supported
Bush against Reagan for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination. Bush,
Sr., and Hinckley, Sr., were both in the oil business. When the Hinckley
oil company, Vanderbilt Oil, started to fail in the 1960s, Bush, Sr.'s,
Zapata Oil financially bailed out Hinckley's sompany. Hinckley had been
running an operation with six dead wells, but he began making several milliion
dollars a year after the Bush bailout.
- Scott Hinckley, John's brother, was scheduled to have
dinner at the Denver home of Neil Bush, Bush, Sr.'s, son (and of course
the current president's brother) the day after the shooting. At the time,
Neil Bush was a Denver-based purchaser of mineral rights for Amoco, and
Scott Hinckley was the vice president of his father's Denver-based oil
- On the day of the shooting, NBC news anchor John Chancellor,
eyebrows raised, informed the viewers of the nightly news that the man
who tried to kill the president was acquainted with the son of the man
who would have become president had the attack succeeded. As a matter of
fact, Chancellor reported in a bewildered tone, Scott Hinckley and Neil
Bush had been scheduled to have dinner together at the home of the (then)
vice-president's son (Neil) the very next night.
- The story of the Bush-Hinckley connection was reported
on the AP and UPI newswires and in some newspapers, including the Houston
Post, which apparently originated the story. It was also reported in Newsweek
magazine. Then the story about one of the strangest coincidences in presidential
assassination history simply disappeared. (The AP story is quoted in its
entirety at the end of this article, not for commercial use but solely
to be used for the educational purposes of research and open discussion.)
- In reference to whether the current president, George
W. Bush, knew the would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Bush said at the time,
"It's certainly conceivable that I met him or might have been introduced
to him. I don't recognize his face from the brief, kind of distorted thing
they had on TV and the name doesn't ring any bells. I know he wasn't on
out staff. I could check our volunteer rolls." There is no record
that he ever did this or ever commented after further reflection and seeing
- Neil Bush used a similar line in denying he knew John
Hinckley. "I have no idea," he said. "I don't recognize
any pictures of him. I just wish I could see a better picture of him."
Besides all of the family ties, Neil Bush lived in Lubbock, Texas, throughout
much of 1978, where Reagan shooter Hinckley lived from 1974-1980. During
this period, in 1978, Neil Bush served as campaign manager for the current
president's unsuccessful run for Congress.
- Neil's wife, Sharon Bush, who is writing an expose of
the family, said, at the time, that Scott Hinckley was coming as a date
of a girl friend of hers. "I don't even know the brother. From what
I've heard, they are a very nice family and have given a lot of money to
the Bush campaign. I understand he was just the renegade brother in the
- The dinner date was canceled. (If it hadn't been, it
would have been the ultimate case of "Guess who's coming to Dinner?")
- Ironically, Scott Hinckley was called on the carpet by
the U.S. Department of Enegy on the day Reagan was shot. The DOE told Hinckley
it might place a $2 million penalty on his company.
- The following AP story is quoted not for commercial use
but solely to be used for the educational purposes of research and open
- FAMILY 'DESTROYED' BY ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT
- By JOHN MOSSMAN, Associated Press Writer, the Associated
Press, April 1, 1981, PM Cycle
- EVERGREEN, Colo. The parents of John W. Hinckley, Jr.,
"just destroyed" by their son's alleged assassination attempt
on President Reagan, hope to see him "as soon as possible" but
have no definite travel plans, their attorney said. The Hinckleys, through
attorney James Robinson, issued a brief statement Tuesday expressing their
"deep concern" for President Reagan and all those involved in
Monday's shooting, including their son, John. Robinson said the Hinckleys
had spoken to their son Monday night and Tuesday afternoon and were trying
to hire a Washington lawyer for him. It was confirmed later in Washington
that the Hinckleys had retained the law firm of millionaire defense attorney
Edward Bennett Williams.
- The Hinckleys said they planned to see their son "as
soon as possible, but at this time they have no definite travel plans worked
out," Robinson said. They sent "personal expressions of sorrow"
to the wounded men and their families, he said. The Hinckleys reiterated
through Robinson that they have provided psychiatric care for their son
in the past, adding that "recent evaluations alerted no one to the
seriousness of his condition."
- William Sells, the Hinckleys' next door neighbor and
in whose home the Hinckleys were staying Tuesday, said the couple was "just
destroyed" by their son's arrest and the attempt made on Reagan's
- In Washington, an aide to Vice President George Bush
disputed a Houston Post report that the Hinckleys made large contributions
to Bush's presidential campaign. The aide, Shirley Green, said no record
of such a contribution could be found.
- The Houston newspaper also reported that Scott Hinckley
was to have dined Tuesday night in Denver at the home of Neil Bush, on
of the vice president's sons. Neil Bush's wife Sharon said Scott Hinckley
was coming to their house as the date of one of her girlfriends. "I
don't even know the brother," she said. "I understand he was
just the renegade brother in the family. They must feel awful."
- The FBI investigated a bomb threat directed against the
Hinckleys on Tuesday, but nothing came of it.
- The senior Hinckley is described by associates as a devout
Christian who belonged to a weekly Bible reading club and recently did
work in Africa for a Christian service organization.
- John Hinckley and his wife stayed at their next-door
neighbor's house all day Tuesday as 70 reporters assembled on the front
lawn and gawkers drove slowly past.
- A statement for counsel for Vanderbilt Energy Corp. said
the elder Hickley had "temporarily relinquished his duties" as
chairman for the Denver-based firm "because of a tragedy involving
a member of his family." John Hinckley, Jr., 25, who was arrested
seconds after Reagan was shot in Washington, was being held Tuesday at
a Marine base in Quantico, Va. The corporate statement did not mention
any change for Scott Hinckley, vice president of operations for Vanderbilt
and brother of John, Jr.
- The father's move came amid confirmation that the Department
of Energy was reviewing Vanderbilt's books. Jack Vandenberg, a DOE spokesman
in Washington, said auditors met with Scott Hinckley in Denver on Monday.
The Washington Star quoted an unnamed "White House official"
as confirming that DOE auditors asked for an explanation of an overcharge
when oil price controls were in effect between 1973 and 1981. The Star
said DOE auditors told Scott Hinckley there was a possible penalty of $2
million for the overcharge.
- End of Associated Press story from April 1, 1981. The
above AP story is quoted not for commercial use but solely to be used for
the educational purposes of research and open discussion.