On November 8, 1965, TV star Dorothy Kilgallen was found dead in her five-story Manhattan brownstone. Conspiracy theorists have claimed over the years she was killed because she knew too much about President Kennedy’s assassination. Fifty years later, a San Diego–based missing-persons website is asking for help in investigating her death.
In the Sunday, November 8, 2015, obituary section of the Union-Tribune, readers were asked to help Kilgallen’s “many fans and friends who miss her and still wonder about her death.” The two-paragraph obit was placed by a Lakeside-based website: missingpersonsofamerica.com.
Jerrie Dean created her missing-persons site after having a lifelong passion about helping to find missing persons. Her older twin brothers and sister were involved in a parental kidnapping prior to her birth.
“We are no longer depending solely on the police to search for our loved ones,” said Dean. Her website has received over six million views so far this year.
An informal group from El Cajon came to her and asked for help from her vast social network connections. She posted a piece on Kilgallen on her website and placed the U-T obituary, for which the group paid $386.
Gene Bryant, spokesperson for the small group, told of his friend’s reading, last year, an extensive article in Midwest Today magazine questioning Kilgallen’s death. Bryant said his friend asked him to help do some research on the computer, saying, “It just keeps eating at me. Nobody loved or cared that this woman had died. She never got justice. ”
Bryant became enthralled in the group’s search for information over the past year. The group now spends about two hours a day researching and following leads. Unfortunately many people originally involved in the Kilgallen story have passed away.
Kilgallen was best known for her 15-year run (until her death at age 52) as a permanent panelist on the CBS game show What’s My Line, although she occasionally wrote nationally published pieces on politics and the mob. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her investigative journalism. She also had an ongoing, well-publicized feud with Frank Sinatra, in which he berated her in his nightclub act.
Kilgallen had written several pieces about her skepticism of the Warren Commission’s report on Kennedy’s assignation. She had defiantly published Jack Ruby’s testimony in his trial for killing Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin. Supposedly her news stories, published prior to the issuance of the Warren Commission's report, caught then-President Johnson off guard and he was angered by the leaks.
From the El Cajon group’s research, Bryant reported some interesting findings. In 1965, the New York City medical examiner listed Kilgallen’s cause of death as a likely mixture of barbiturates with a dangerous level of alcohol, causing a possible heart attack.
“Kilgallen’s body had a high dosage of nicotine. But she didn’t smoke. We found out nicotine can be injected which could have caused a heart attack,” said Bryant.
Bryant also said that New York homicide detectives didn’t arrive at Kilgallen’s home until six hours after her death, having heard about it on the news. Jack Doyle, one of the homicide detectives on the case, stated he didn’t believe Kilgallen died of an overdose.
Four months later, the detective was gone — not retired — from NYPD. In his life, he reportedly moved six times around the country, apparently each time a book author or investigator started asking questions about Kilgallen’s death.
Leaving no stone unturned, Bryant’s group even traced down the family of the last guest that appeared with Kilgallen on What’s My Line, which filmed two days before Kilgallen’s death.
“We have no intention of making money, a book, or a movie,” said Bryant. “It’s not about us. We do this to honor Miss Kilgallen.”
Bryant says mounds of evidence and statements have led the group to believe they are very close to proving that Kilgallen’s death was no accident.