Interview with Dealey Plaza Conspiracy Theorist


In 2006, I took a cross country trip and did a blog about it for That blog has long since disappeared, but I was able to find the cache online, and was able to locate one of the highlights of that trip, an interview I did with a conspiracy buff named Sherman, a scraggly 50-something man who hung around outside the Book Depository building to give “unsanctioned” tours to tourists wandering around Dealey Plaza.  After I did both the museum tour and his tour, I spoke with him about the job and about JFK’s assassination. With the anniversary upon us, I thought a few of you might enjoy that interview. (The cache didn’t save the photos of him, sadly. He was a sight to see.)

It’s hard to miss Sherman Hopkins if you go down to the Texas Schoolbook Depository.  He’s about 6’7″ and maybe 170 pounds soaking wet.  He wears a camouflage hat over his grey mullet, and his dark eyes could pierce concrete.  His bottom teeth are worn down from years of smoke, and the only clue that he might be anything other than just another person hanging around Dealey Plaza in the afternoon is an apron and a loud, smokey, southern drawl that he utilizes to gather people around him as he tells tales of gunmen lurking all around Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.  Sherman talks about the witnesses and reporters who have been killed, the last minute turn the limo took, and how it would have been impossible for Oswald to do all the things the Warren Commission claims he did.  All the while, he is scoping the scene, making sure his tour hits places where there are people, so that they might hear what he’s saying and tag along. 

After the JFK movie came out, I did a fair amount of research on the assassiation, but Sherman was able to provide numerous antecdotes that I had never heard and which, incredibly, check out.  For example, Woody Harrelson’s father does claim to have something to do with the assassination, and a lady who interviewed Jack Ruby in 1965, Dorothy Kilgallen, died soon after her interview under mysterious circumstances. 

So is Sherman a sidewalk charlatan, trying to make a quick buck by spouting off crackpot theories?  Or is he a purveyor of truth, trying to tell you what the government doesn’t want you to hear?

JGT:  Where ya from, Sherman?

Sherman:  I’m from Florida.

JGT:  When did you move to Dallas?

Sherman:  I’ve been here about 23 years.

JGT:  Why did you decide to move to Dallas?

Sherman:  I came here to visit my sister and my brother-in-law and met my wife.

JGT:  Now, where were you when JFK was assassinated?

Sherman:  I was five years old, sittin’ on my dad’s knee, watchin’ tv, and Walter Cronkite came on the tv.

JGT:  Do you remember what your family’s reaction was when they heard what had happened?

Sherman:  It was the only time I ever saw my father cry. I’ve been interested in it ever since.

JGT:  Do you think that has something to do with it?  The emotion you saw as a youngster, do you think that got you interested in doing something like this for a living?

Sherman:  Sure.  Because when you’re young, something like that really gets your attention.  For that to be the only time I ever saw my father cry, it had to be something pretty important.

JGT:  When did you decide that you wanted to do these tours outside the Book Depository?

Sherman:  About 11 years ago, my wife talked me into doing it and I’ve been doing it ever since.

JGT:  Where do you do most of your research?

Sherman:  I’ve done a lot of research in the archives, and hands on.  I’ve met pretty much everybody involved in the investigation.  Eyewitnesses, police that were here, I’ve talked to Oswald’s wife.

JGT:  What did Oswald’s wife say?

Sherman:  Well, she said she doesn’t think her husband did this.  And I believe her.

JGT:  Who do you think did it?

Sherman:  I think that the Mob had Kennedy shot.

JGT:  Why would they have done that?

Sherman:  Because the Kennedys disrespected the Mob.  The Mob had gotten the Kennedys into the office of President through the Longshoremen and Teamsters Union, and then all of the Kennedys disrespected the Mob.

JGT:  If there is a farflung conspiracy, how come there’s never been a person to step forward to say, “I was the other gunman”?

Sherman:  Because probably by the end of the day, the gunmen were all dead.  And within a few days of it, anyone who knew about the assassination, they were history.

JGT:  Well, if they were hired to do the assassination, wouldn’t they know that if they did it they would be killed by the end of the day?

Sherman:  Well, yeah.  It had to be that way.  It had to be that way for the simple fact that somebody on their deathbed, drinking in a bar, somebody would have said something by now.  Everybody wants to be the hero, the man who steps up.

JGT:  What do you think Oswald was doing when the assassination occurred?

Sherman: I think he was in a lunchroom, drinking a Coke and eating a sandwich.  I believe Oswald was in the wrong place, wrong time, wrong military background.  Definitely hung around the wrong acqaintances and got hisself involved in something he wished he hadn’t gotten into.  Then he backed out.  And there was people in place to make sure that JFK was killed and he was going to be the scapegoat.

JGT:  Do you think Jack Ruby was part of the overall conspiracy or do you think he was just a guy who wanted to get attention?

Sherman:  I think the mob looked at Jack and told him, “Look, you’ve probably got a year to live.  You’re terminally ill with lung cancer. (Ruby did die of lung cancer three years after he shot Oswald, and the shady nightclub owner thought he had been deliberately infected with it).  We want Oswald dead, we want this thing stopped right here.  If he don’t make it to court, it’s over.  It’s done.”  And I believe they told him, “You’ll be a hero in the eyes of the world.  And we’ll take care of your family.”  And he took ‘em up on it.

JGT:  So you don’t think he was an actual mobster?

Sherman:  No, sir.  I don’t.  But he had ties to the mob.  He could have you hurt if he wanted to make a phone call.  But as far as making big decisions, he didn’t.

JGT:  Do you think they do a fair representation of what happened in the 6th Floor Museum?

Sherman:  No, I don’t.  Anytime you have to pay fifteen dollars(actually it was $10, $13.50 for the audio tour) to go on a tour and come outside to ask me questions, then they don’t do it very good.

If I paid $15 to go to a museum, then I shouldn’t have to have a question that needs answering when I come out.

And I’m not putting the museum down.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a great museum.  They have some wonderful memorabilia in there.  It’s classy, flamboyant, and you should see it if you’re only going to come here once.  But do I think they give a fair…no, no I don’t.  They make 16.9 million dollars a year.  I think they’re told that Oswald shot from that window because it’s so publicized, and that’s all the government will allow them to tell you.  (Actually, the museum does cover multiple conspiracy theories, though none of them in extreme detail. -ed.)

JGT:  Are you going to go home and do more research on the assassination tonight?

Sherman:  No.  I’m gonna go home and relax and drink a cold beer.

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