Conspiracy Theories

Babushka Lady and Umbrella Man – the enduring mystery of the unidentified JFK witnesses

JFK, moments before his assassination
JFK, moments before his assassination

The assassination of JFK is the United States’ most notorious and widely believed conspiracy theory. Numerous questions, suspicions and coincidences surround that fateful day, including several mysterious witnesses that were caught on film and still haven’t been identified…

Polls have shown that the majority of Americans still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone when he shot President John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22nd 1963. The most common contention of JFK conspiracy theorists is that a second unidentified gunman fired at President Kennedy from the ‘grassy knoll’, as he and his entourage went by in the presidential motorcade. Some allege that the CIA, the Mafia, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, the KGB or President of Cuba Fidel Castro were involved in a conspiracy to bring JFK’s presidency to a violent end. Some have even alleged that his wife, Jackie Kennedy, was involved in a plot – or that she fired the fatal bullet herself.

Some of the conspiracy theories hone in on the witnesses we know about from the photos and video footage of the assassination – but who remain unidentified and have never come forward…

Who is the Babushka Lady?

‘Babushka Lady’ is the press nickname for an unknown woman present during the JFK assassination, which arose because of the headscarf she was wearing – similar to those worn by elderly Russian women. (Babushka means “old woman” in Russian.)

In various amateur video recordings, including the famous Zapruder film, the Babushka Lady is clearly seen standing on the grass holding a camera to her face. In the footage shot by Mark Bell, after the shots are fired, she is still standing with the camera to her face – even though the surrounding witnesses took cover. She eventually joined the crowd that went up onto the grassy knoll in search of a gunman, and was last seen walking east on Elm Street. No cameras were able to capture her face, either because she was facing away, or because her own camera was obscuring it.

Babuska-mystery babushka-lady1 babushka-lady

It’s clear that the Babushka Lady took numerous photos of JFK during the moments of his assassination. However, none of her photos have materialised, and she has never come forward or been positively identified.

A woman named Beverly Oliver came forward in 1970, claiming that she was the Babushka Lady and that her film of the assassination was confiscated by FBI agents and never returned. However, there were numerous holes in Oliver’s story, including the fact that the camera she claimed to have been using wasn’t actually available until four years after the assassination. While she has a few supporters, most people believe Oliver fabricated her story, which means the Babushka Lady continues to evade us.

Who was she? Why has she never come forward with her photos? Why did she not take cover like the other witnesses? Why did she just continue taking photos – unfazed by the horror that had just taken place in front of her?

Was she in on it?

The Umbrella Man

Another highly mysterious and rather more suspicious witness was the ‘Umbrella Man’, one of the closest bystanders when the president was shot. Footage of the assassination shows him opening a black umbrella as the Kennedy motorcade is going past, even though it wasn’t raining.

db08616483f9a36ca4d407afb6385f9635th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSASSINATION OF J.F.K.

Conspiracy theorists have identified two possible roles for the Umbrella Man in the assassination plot. One says that he opened the umbrella as a signal to the shooter to go ahead and open fire, and that he raised the umbrella to communicate, “he isn’t dead – keep shooting.”

The other says that the umbrella itself was a weapon; Robert Cutler argues that it contained a paralysing dart that was fired at President Kennedy so that he could be more easily shot at. This idea is supported by the fact that Charles Senseney of the CIA admitted that the CIA did possess such a weapon in 1963. However, it seems unlikely, given that there’s no evidence that the president was paralysed before the first bullet hit.

The first explanation is more plausible, except that a man called Louie Steven Witt came forward in 1978 claiming to be the Umbrella Man – and had a completely new explanation for the umbrella. He said that he brought the umbrella to heckle the president, because JFK’s father had been a supporter of Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain was Prime Minister of Great Britain before Winston Churchill, and is highly controversial for his Nazi appeasement polices. His trademark fashion accessory – which subsequently became a derogatory symbol of appeasement – was a black umbrella.

However, some researchers find Witt’s claims to be highly dubious. They point out that Witt claimed to have not seen the president get shot because the umbrella was in front of his face. This contradicts photos and footage of the umbrella man, showing the black umbrella to be above his head as the motorcade goes past. And would he really have kept the umbrella down, obscuring his view, after the first shots rang out? Theorists claim that Witt was either a false stand-in for the real Umbrella Man, planted by the conspirators, or he really was the Umbrella Man, but was lying about his true purpose at Dealey Plaza that day.

Badge Man and the Dark Complected Man

The ‘Dark Complected Man’ is another unidentified witness seen in several photographs sitting next to the Umbrella Man, seconds after the assassination. Some photos appear to show him talking into a radio, and tucking it into his back pocket. Witt said he remembered a ‘Negro man’ sitting down and talking to him, but couldn’t identify him and said nothing about him talking on a radio.

'Dark Complected Man' (left) sitting with 'Umbrella Man'
‘Dark Complected Man’ (left) sitting with ‘Umbrella Man’
Dark Complected Man putting a radio into his back pocket?
Dark Complected Man putting a radio into his back pocket?

Some conspiracy theories speculated – because of his dark complexion – that he might’ve been a Cuban government agent. Whoever he was, maybe he and Umbrella Man were fellow conspirators, hiding in plain sight.

‘Badge Man’ is another story. He has been accused of being the elusive second gunman caught on film, but many people question his existence altogether.

It’s alleged that you can see Badge Man – so named because he appears to be wearing a police officer’s uniform with a badge – in the background of the photo taken by witness Mary Moorman. Badge Man is said to be standing on the grassy knoll, and theorists accuse him of firing the bullet that struck President Kennedy in the head. Were Dallas police officers part of the plot to kill JFK?

The alleged 'Badge Man'
The alleged ‘Badge Man’

However, while the good quality close-up does (very, very vaguely) look like it could be a police officer, I think Badge Man is an example of pareidolia. Our minds are telling us Badge Man is there when he isn’t. Like the ‘man in the moon’ and faces and animals in the clouds, we’re perceiving as significant what is probably nothing more than the light through the trees.

The Mary Moorman photo - you can supposedly see Badge Man behind the wall under the trees (well, I can't)
The Mary Moorman photo – you can supposedly see Badge Man behind the wall under the trees (well, I can’t)

Who do you think the Dark Complected Man is? Do you think the Umbrella Man was Louie Witt, or do you think Witt was a cover? And who do you think is the Babushka Lady?

Perhaps we’ll never know because they were all murdered by the conspirators to keep them quiet. Either because of damning evidence they possessed (like the Babushka Lady’s film) or because the conspirators didn’t want them leaking details about their role in the president’s death…

Next week: an exclusive interview with rock band Credo about conspiracies and cover-ups


Beverly Oliver: Babushka Babe? Or Bamboozling the Buffs?

The John F. Kennedy Assassination: The Umbrella Man

Wikipedia – John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories

15 thoughts on “Babushka Lady and Umbrella Man – the enduring mystery of the unidentified JFK witnesses”

  1. Please update your information about Beverly Oliver (The BaBushka Lady). She has made herself known for over 20 plus years now. “Evidence of Revision” is where you can find her but i have a link to the condensed version. Please do this ASAP. We cant have misinformation out there for it only discredits the Great and Good work of others!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comments. As I explained in the article, Beverly Oliver being the Babushka Lady is nothing more than a theory. She has never been able to prove that it was her and there are problems with her evidence, which is why she has never been accepted as factually present at Dealey Plaza that day. And I think Badge Man is a figment of people’s imagination.


      1. Thx for your response,

        Concerning the photographic evidence showing her there is enough but going a little further the FBI (Regis Kennedy) confiscated her camera thus collecting information name, address etc..she even called the Bureau to retrieve her camera and film with no result. I see the evidence out there trying to discredit her… i for one believe her story.



  2. So this is how it went, in my mind:

    radio man was radioing gunman in hotel, when the motorcade was strolling close, umbrella man stood up and opened the umbrella as a sign of an OK shot and no wind or interference, babuskha lady was standing waiting for the perfect opportunity, not to take a picture, but to be a recon of some sort with a device that looked like a camera but was in fact the same technology (just older) that spotters use when helping out a sniper in the army. After the events took place they all scattered and led their normal lives. JFK was assassinated by an unknown entity that was contracted by a huge force or group to stop or slow down positive movements within the western world,


  3. Hello everybody
    Now this is not a joke .
    I cannot see badge man , but i can see and I cannot believe what I’m saying but I can see 2 aliens .
    Locate Jackie Kennedys head and follow the photo up , as you get above the wall , there he is and another one directly behind him .
    Please zoom into quite clearly see the clear details of the aliens face .
    I hope you can see this , it is very clear , I cannot believe it .


  4. Tony T.J. Taylor, brother of Ladybird Johnson looks just like this guy and he is on YouTube video of home made variety wearing a hat just like the one this fellow has on. But don’t stop there. Lady beside BaBUSHka lady on her right is Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush is the lady in the scarf, filming the event.


  5. The first photo in this article (of a smiling JFK and Jackie in the back seat of an open convertible) was NOT taken as you have captioned it “moments before his assassination.” The clothes they are wearing and the car in which they are sitting do not match those of Nov. 22, 1963. This kind of sloppiness is typical of conspiracy theorists.


    1. Hey, you’re probably right. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist. You’ve obviously misunderstood my blog. I write about conspiracy theories because they’re entertaining. I’m not going to do an in-depth investigation into every photo I use to verify the source. Thanks for stopping by!


  6. I think the Mary Moorman photo was taken by the Babushka lady, look at where she’s stood in the colour photo and the angle of the black and white “Mary Moorman” photo. So therefore Mary Moorman is probably the Babushka lady, look at the guys stood on the opposite side of the road for instance they are across and to the right of the photographer.


  7. How do you know The Babushka Lady is taking photographs? She could have been holding binoculars. The former seems more likely but if you can’t see her face clearly, how do you know she’s holding a camera?


    1. I don’t ‘know’ for sure, but as you say, holding a camera makes the most sense and is very likely to be the case. There would be no need for binoculars where she’s standing, unless she’s trying to see something else further away… The second shooter perhaps? Perhaps the Babushka Lady was in on it?


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