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 business.
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 better photographs.
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 family."
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 discussion.
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 life.
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.