Exactly thirty years ago, on March 30th of 1981, 25-year-old John Hinkley wrote the following letter to actressJodie Foster. In it, Hinkley — a man so obsessed with Foster as a result of her role in Taxi Driver that he had previously followed her to Yale University; enrolled in a class; and proceeded to stalk her — made clear his immediate plan: to kill U.S. President Ronald Reagan in a bid to somehow win her affections. True to his word, later that day Hinkley fired 6 times at Ronald Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel; four people, including Reagan, were injured. At trial the next year, Hinkley was found not guilty by reasons of insanity. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Rawhide Down.
Image: Rawhide Down
3/30/81Dear Jodie, There is a definite possibility that I will be killed in my attempt to get Reagan. It is for this very reason that I am writing you this letter now. As you well know by now I love you very much. Over the past seven months I've left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself. Besides my shyness, I honestly did not wish to bother you with my constant presence. I know the many messages left at your door and in your mailbox were a nuisance, but I felt that it was the most painless way for me to express my love for you. I feel very good about the fact that you at least know my name and know how I feel about you. And by hanging around your dormitory, I've come to realize that I'm the topic of more than a little conversation, however full of ridicule it may be. At least you know that I'll always love you. Jodie, I would abandon this idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you, whether it be in total obscurity or whatever. I will admit to you that the reason I'm going ahead with this attempt now is because I just cannot wait any longer to impress you. I've got to do something now to make you understand, in no uncertain terms, that I am doing all of this for your sake! By sacrificing my freedom and possibly my life, I hope to change your mind about me. This letter is being written only an hour before I leave for the Hilton Hotel. Jodie, I'm asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance, with this historical deed, to gain your respect and love. I love you forever, John Hinckley