ZAC STUART-PONTIER: Check alright, alright. We're alright we're good to go. Dan can you just say a few words so I can?
DAN MOLDEA: My name is Dan E. Moldea.
ZAC: Maybe a little up on his side.
ZAC: I’m in Washington DC with investigative journalist Dan Moldea. In our last episode, while writing a book about the RFK case, Moldea talked to a lot of the cops who worked the crime scene. And he zeroed in on a man he suspected had fired a second gun in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. A security guard by the name of Thane Eugene Cesar.
MOLDEA: Caesar was you know he was nothing if not enigmatic with regard to a lot of this evidence. I mean I laugh now when you hear this and you'll see you'll see what I'm talking about. This thing isn't ready to go with a second tape yet?
ZAC: Let me check.
ZAC: Moldea had been told Cesar was dead, but then he discovered Cesar was very much alive. And he recorded an interview with him. My producer Jesse and I are here to make a copy of this never before released thirty year old tape.
JESSE: These tapes that we're hearing what we'll be hearing on them is...
MOLDEA: This is my first interview with Caesar. This is me asking Caesar questions. You'll hear my voice, Cesar's voice and then you have a transcript of it here.
ZAC: Yeah, we gotta copy that.
ZAC: It wasn’t easy to convince Moldea to let us use his tape. So Jesse and I are copying it now during our interview hoping he doesn’t change his mind.
MOLDEA: How's this going? OK?
JESSE: Going great.
MOLDEA: Where are you out on this?
JESSE: Like what do I think? I go back and forth.
MOLDEA: I can relate to that.
ZAC: Today on the RFK tapes, Dan Moldea finds the man he believes killed Robert Kennedy. And a controversial ending to that book of his.
I’m Zac Stuart Pontier.
MOLDEA: Me, the guy who’s put this thing to rest, who’s come up with a solution to
these extra bullets and muzzle distance, I’m suddenly on the defense? I’m the bad guy
ZAC: Paint the scene for me, where are you sitting? What does the office look like?
MOLDEA: I had- it was at Garland Weber's office out in I think it is Van Nuys.
ZAC: Back in 1987, Moldea made arrangements with Garland Weber, Cesar’s lawyer, to conduct the interview in his LA office.
MOLDEA: We were in Weber's office Weber is behind his desk, Caesar's sitting in a chair against the wall and I'm seated in-between and I got three tape recorders on.
MOLDEA: To tell you the truth Gene, there’s a lot of people who thought you were dead.
CESAR: Oh I know it and I wanted it that way.
ZAC: What'd he look like?
MOLDEA: He had as a small beard. He has sort of like a rectangular face. He's he was not exactly, I expected a fire breathing right wing nutcase. He was not that guy.
MOLDEA: I know you were born on February 28th, 1942 in Missouri, you’re about 6 foot, you’re probably a bit more than 210 now.
CESAR: About 240.
MOLDEA: I had really prepared for this like I've never prepared for anything like I said I thought I was going to make history that day.
MOLDEA: Okay let’s talk about the night and this was on June 5th, 1968.
At 4:45, you received a call from the Ace Guard Service manager. They needed an extra man for that night to be at the Ambassador. Tell me about the conversation.
CESAR: See, the thing is- people don't understand- we weren't there for his bodyguard. He didn't want anybody's guards around him. He didn't want the police; he didn't want us. We were told that we were there for one reason only. Crowd control, nothing else.
MOLDEA: Basically he just you know roamed around as he was directed and then at some point he was directed to go into the kitchen pantry.
MOLDEA: So just let me understand there, you were at the West door, at the West pantry door.
CESAR: I stood there and watched his speech, that’s basically what I did.
RFK: I want to express my gratitude to my dog Freckles, who has been maligned.
ZAC: Cesar tells Moldea that after the speech, Kennedy walked off stage and entered the kitchen.
MOLDEA: So Kennedy comes through the into the pantry into the swinging doors and you move in right in behind Kennedy, right?
CESAR: Mmhm, I had his arm.
MOLDEA: You had his arm just like this. You’re holding his arm. Wow geez. So you’re holding his arm, pretend like I'm Kennedy. Show me how you would do it.
CESAR: Well he was over here. Just like this…
MOLDEA: To your left and his right.
CESAR: I'm pushing people back like this, and we're walking, telling them to get back so we could walk through. It was the reporters is what it was.
MOLDEA: And then Kennedy pulled away.
CESAR: He turned to shake hands with the busboy.
MOLDEA: Sirhan emerges, do you see Sirhan?
CESAR: No. I’ve never seen him. The only thing I’d ever seen was the flash, the flashes of the gun going off.
ZAC: Cesar says he never saw Sirhan with the gun, but he did see how Senator Kennedy reacted to the shooting.
CESAR: He turned completely sideways so that his side of his neck was facing almost perpendicular to the gunshots.
MOLDEA: So he was perpendicular to the gunshots. But you were the only person who knew exactly where he got hit, you were the only person…
CESAR: Because I was the closest person to him.
MOLDEA: You’re right up on him aren’t you?
CESAR: Yeah I was real real close.
MOLDEA: Inches right. You were inches behind. Cause you had said to the police that you thought that Sirhan was actually firing at you. You thought that the shots were actually...
CESAR: Well, that's what it looked like.
MOLDEA: It looked like the shots...
CESAR: All I’d seen was the flash, the gunshots go off the flashes went off and I hit the deck.
MOLDEA: You ducked right?
CESAR: Oh sure.
MOLDEA: You ducked?
CESAR: I went down, went down.
MOLDEA: Did you duck and then stumble and fall?
CESAR: Yeah and when I got my composure and came back up I brought my gun out.
MOLDEA: Okay, you pulled your gun out of your holster. Was it at your hip? Was it…
MOLDEA: Did you have your arm extended in a combat crouch?
MOLDEA: What kind of gun was it?
CESAR: It was a .38.
MOLDEA: Okay, no chance it was a .22 right?
MOLDEA: Do you still have the .38?
CESAR: No. And I looked over and seen that… a bunch of people was beating the shit out of this guy.
ARCHIVAL: Get a hold of his thumb and break it if you have too!
CESAR: With that I put my gun back in my holster.
MOLDEA: Gene how long was your gun out of your holster?
CESAR: I don’t know.
MOLDEA: A thousand one, a thousand two? How long do you think?
CESAR: Thirty seconds.
MOLDEA: Thirty seconds your gun was out of your holster? Okay, you put your gun back in your holster then.
CESAR: And that’s when I went over to this area here to keep people from coming in.
MOLDEA: Cesar says that as soon as the shooting ended, he ran out of the room.
MOLDEA: Okay I’m gonna get rough with you now. Okay now one of the things that really puzzles everybody is the fact that Sirhan had eight shots in his gun. He had an eight-shot Iver Johnson. Sirhan fired all eight shots, if you prove one more bullet that means there’s a second gun present.
MOLDEA: These are photographs, this is an Associated Press wire…
ZAC: Moldea shows Cesar that photo of possible extra bullet holes in the pantry door frames.
MOLDEA: Gene this… there doesn’t seem any way Sirhan fired all these shots by himself. There had to be somebody here. I want to tax your mind as to what else you saw that night. Who else it could've been and chances are, the best people to look at is the guys who had guns in their hands.
CESAR: Well first of all, and this is exactly what the police sergeant told me, and, of course, these people aren't stupid -he says, "If, as close as you were, if you would've had a .22 and would've shot Kennedy as close as you were, there would've been powder burn residues all over the back of his neck or anywhere else that you had hit him with a .22.”
MOLDEA: There would've been powder burns, right?
CESAR: A tremendous amount, because you're talking about a very short distance.
MOLDEA: Okay, I have photographs here of the powder burns on Kennedy's jacket. These are intense powder burns. These are point-blank shots.
CESAR: Well what he was telling me, he says, “If you were close as you were, there would’ve been a larger area of powder burns” You know instead of what you see there, there would of been a tremendous…
MOLDEA: Well, Gene, here's what the autopsy, the autopsy and the police own investigation shows that the shots, all four shots hitting Kennedy from the rear. All four. The shot that went into his ear was one inch away. The shot right here is contact, that’s a contact shot I mean somebody put the gun right in his back and pulled the trigger.
CESAR: You’re probably 100% right. But I have no way of determining how close Sirhan was. Do you see what I’m saying? He could’ve been one inch away. He could’ve been six feet away.
MOLDEA: See then we have to look at what the other eyewitnesses say. Nobody, I mean nobody says that Sirhan ever got closer than a foot-and-a-half away.
CESAR: Well, me being behind him, it'd be a little hard to shoot him in front then anyways, the ones that went through here.
MOLDEA: These photographs are showing that he was hit from the rear. In other words this is what the shots show Gene with all due respect. Gene, it was at the angle you were standing, it’s at the angle you were standing.
CESAR: No, I'd have to get on my knees to make it at that angle.
MOLDEA: Not at all, Gene because you said that you pulled the gun out at your hip at a forty-five degree angle. That's what you said to the police.
CESAR: That's right. But that was after the shots were fired.
MOLDEA: Well, remember, there were two stories on that: whether you pulled your gun before or after. Remember that.
CESAR: I know that.
MOLDEA: What I'm saying, Gene, is that's why you're taking a lot of shit.
MOLDEA: Because you say you draw your gun beforehand. You had it at your hip at a forty-five degree angle. You hit Kennedy with the first shot. He starts to fall. You hit him with the second, third, and then the fourth shot, is the fatal shot in the head as he falls at a 67 degree angle.
Okay, Gene, let me ask you this point-blank, did you shoot Bobby Kennedy? Intentionally or accidentally?
MOLDEA: What I’m wondering Gene is there any way it could’ve been an accident? You don’t seem to be a hitman. You don’t seem like a guy who’s under mind control or anything like that. There’s no way it could’ve been an accident?
MOLDEA: Under those circumstances, you know, if you fired while you were in trouble or something like that...
MOLDEA: It's understood.
CESAR: No matter what anybody says or any report they come up with, you know, I know I didn't do it. The police department knows I didn't do it. There's just a few people out there who want to make something out of something that isn't there- even though, I know what you're saying. Some of the evidence shows that it could have been.
MOLDEA: You were at point blank range, you were the only person at point blank range in this thing.
CESAR: Geez I better go get myself in, huh?
MOLDEA: He just kind of laughed at me just kind of blew me off. And you know in good humor he said you know I didn't do it. I don’t think I ever caught him off balance.
MOLDEA: People are accusing you of murder. I mean people are accusing you of murder.
CESAR: Well they can accusing me of being a queer. That doesn't mean that I am.
MOLDEA: But how did you feel about that, being accused of murder, especially murdering somebody like Bob Kennedy- which really changed the course of history in this country.
CESAR: It didn't bother me, because the police department, like they told me, "There's no way we're going to prosecute you. We know that you didn't do it. We've got the man that did it. We're happy with it."
MOLDEA: Despite my passionate belief that I was gonna break his ass down and get him to confess he just pretty much- I don't think I ever even had him concerned during the thing because he was convinced that he didn't do it.
MOLDEA: I have to tell you Gene. You’re not what I expected. I really expected this- I'm sure you're really a tough guy and everything else, but I...
Gene, from the bottom of my heart, I hope you didn't do this. I think you're a nice guy. I like you.
CESAR: Well, I didn't do it.
MOLDEA: I needed some test or measurement to figure out how much time and money I was going to spend going after this guy’s ass. So I said, “Are you willing to be polygraphed?”
CESAR: I would take one right now. If you could set it up right now for the DA to give me a lie detector test I’d go down tomorrow to take it and would not be a bit afraid of it. I’ll take one.
MOLDEA: Okay, let me arrange it. I’ll arrange it for you.
CESAR: Sure, don’t bother me.
ZAC: Moldea arranged for Cesar to take a polygraph with an expert in LA.
MOLDEA: And what I said to myself was if he passes this thing, I'm going to ease up I don't think a polygraph should put somebody on the hook. But I think it should help take him off the hook.
ZAC: Moldea had breakfast at a nearby diner, and met up with Cesar when the polygraph was over.
MOLDEA: I remember Cesar saying to me he says "I didn't kill Bobby Kennedy but I'm thinking killing you for making me go through this."
He passed. He passed with flying colors.
I was shocked, I didn’t think he was going to do it. So I was, as far as I was concerned Cesar went off my radar screen.
MOLDEA: It’s still such a puzzle, it still looks like Cesar did it.
ZAC: This is Moldea checking in with our own Bill Klaber. At the time Bill was in the middle of writing his own book about the case, Shadow Play.
BILL KLABER: Cesar, circumstantially, is as guilty as a man can be.
MOLDEA: He passed a fucking polygraph test, that’s the thing that…
BILL: Well, Dan, here's where you and I part ways on that. I don't think polygraphs are worth shit and they mostly depend on the guy operating the test.
MOLDEA: This guy was great.
BK: Yeah well you know I don't I really- I don't believe passing a polygraph…
MOLDEA: I just needed some indication of how much I was going to be down this guy's throat. After all of that, I mean fuck, I've got to get this guy off the hook.
BILL: Well you're a real bulldog on this thing and you know you're kind of an in close fighter and I'm kind of a lay back guy. I don't know. I mean sometimes you can get in real close and and not see it either. Do you know what I mean?
MOLDEA: I know exactly what you mean, believe me, I'm experiencing it right now.
ZAC: Moldea began to wonder if he was spending too much time on a possible second gunman and not enough time dealing with what was right in front of him. There was one person who undoubtedly fired his gun in the pantry that night. Moldea needed to talk to him.
MOLDEA: I’m on a track now where I don’t think Cesar did it but I’m thinking maybe Sirhan did.
ZAC: So Moldea requested an interview with Sirhan in prison.
MOLDEA: And I said I got this, I’m gonna get this interview. And a week later I did.
ZAC: For the interview, Moldea would be accompanied by Sirhan’s brother, Adel, and Bill.
MOLDEA: I was told by Adel that that Bill Klaber was going to come along with us. I like Klaber, he was a very decent guy, very smart. And honest, he was dedicated to his work. The three of us drove up to Corcoran State Penitentiary together, and this is like maximum security stuff here.
ZAC: This was Bill’s first time meeting Sirhan Sirhan as well.
BILL: In the movies when you go into the interview someone in prison, or you go into the prison you hear all these echoing footsteps and doors closing and all that stuff. And it wasn’t like that so much. You went into a room that was like maybe a truck stop cafeteria. It was plainly furnished, there were some tables and they pretty much took everything away from you. You couldn’t bring anything to write with.
MOLDEA: They wouldn’t even let me bring paper and pencil in there. And then there was a coke machine and I was getting a coke when I heard Adel say “Dan Moldea, Sirhan Sirhan.”
BILL: He was still youthful and he’s smart, mild mannered, happy for the visit.
MOLDEA: He was very nice. He’s half my size and he was well spoken, intelligent.
BILL: He listened to National Public Radio on the radio, All Things Considered.
MOLDEA: He and I are the same religion, we’re both Eastern Orthodox.
BILL: Has no opinion as to what happened to him in that murder, he doesn’t think “Oh people put me up to it or I was hypnotized.”
MOLDEA: I asked him if he was part of a conspiracy, and his reaction was you know it would’ve unraveled by now. Why would I be taking the fall all by myself after all of this time?
BILL: He doesn’t know. Just “I don’t have any memory of the murder and I don’t have any memory of planning the murder.”
MOLDEA: I liked Sirhan I mean personally I liked the guy. I was very friendly towards him patting his hand saying “Poor Sirhan, poor Sirhan. You’re so misunderstood.”
BILL: I found him to be extremely sincere, you know I’d bring up one thing or another about it. He’d say “You have to forgive me. One I don’t remember and I don’t think about this. You know a lot more about this case than I do. I don’t think about this stuff in here, if I did I’d go crazy.”
ZAC: As he had for years, Sirhan maintained that he had no recollection of shooting Robert Kennedy or planning to do so.
MOLDEA: He keeps saying the same thing, over and over again. And it’s either he’s telling the truth or he’s fucking lying.
ZAC: Dan and Bill checked in with each other after the visit.
MOLDEA: And when he says “God if there were other people involved in this conspiracy I mean I’d be the first one to speak up.” And that’s the thing that really puzzles me too when I hear him say something like that.
BILL: I think he was manipulated
MOLDEA: You really think we manipulated?
BILL: You have an investigation that you can't rely on and you have extra bullets and you have a guy who can't explain himself and has who has known no known contacts with anybody that he could have teamed up with and appears to be sincere .
I mean, unless you think he’s lying which I don’t know do you ever remember you know telling a lie when you were little or doing something and then saying you didn’t do it and then you say you didn’t do it so many times that you just believe it? Until you like really believe it.
MOLDEA: We all do.
BILL: Yeah so I mean that’s possible after all this time. I think you’d probably agree with me, he appears to be a sincere person.
MOLDEA: And you can say the same thing about Cesar.
BILL: Do you have a timetable for your book.
MOLDEA: I’m not due until the fall. I’ve got a year.
BILL: I’d be pleased to read it.
ZAC: Moldea had spent years writing a book that he thought would end with a confession from Cesar. He’d nearly finished it. But now, he realized he no longer had his ending. So he went to see his editor.
MOLDEA: I had just given him 27 chapters of my book and he goes, “Man I believe it, no doubt in my mind. Two guns were fired and Cesar did it.” I go, “Listen, you know I’ve been talking to Sirhan.” And he goes, “What?” And I said, “He may have done it.” And he goes, “You gotta be kidding me.” And I said, “No, he may have done it.” He said, “You better make this work.”
“What you're gonna have to do you're gonna have to knock down all this evidence you have of extra bullets and muzzle distance and everything else.” So I had to go back and reinvestigate all of this stuff.
ZAC: That’s after the break.
MOLDEA: So I started investigating everything again. I reinvestigated everything.
ZAC: Investigative journalist Dan Moldea had started to doubt the presence of a second gunman. And without a second gunman, then there couldn’t be extra bullets in the pantry.
So Moldea went back to the thing that started it all: that photo of circled bullet holes in the kitchen door frames and he decided to take a closer look literally.
MOLDEA: I got a magnifying glass and in the holes you would see this writing, up and down up and down up and down. And I saw 723 LASO.
I figured 723 was the badge number of whoever circled these holes.
ZAC: Moldea called a source he had in the LA Sheriff's department.
MOLDEA: And I said, “Who was badge number 723 on June 4th, 1968?” And he put me on hold for two seconds, and he said “The guy’s named Walt Tew, W, T-E-W”
So I figured well this guy’s a criminalist, a firearms identification expert of some sort. So I want to talk to this guy, so I say, “Can you give me his contact information.” He said he’s dead. But he had a widow so I called his wife and paid my respects to his wife. And I said to her, “Tell me about your husband, how long was he a criminalist? How long was he a forensics guy?” She goes, “Oh no, my husband was a motorcycle cop.”
ZAC: A motorcycle cop had circled the holes.
MOLDEA: I said “He wasn’t a firearms identification expert, he wasn’t a ballistics expert?” “No, no, no, no he was a motorcycle cop.” And so I was convinced that an uninformed person had originally marked this so called bullet evidence.
And anything that anybody who passed by those things thought that these were bullet holes and identified- and that's what happened. I think he had I had all these police officers saying there’s you know- I saw I saw these bullet holes at the crime scene in the walls and door frames in Sirhan’s line of fire. And they saw what they saw and it was after Tew had marked what he considered to be evidence.
ZAC: Moldea is saying that all of these law enforcement officers just walked by holes in the door frames that had been mislabelled as bullet holes. And none of them looked closely enough to notice the mistake.
MOLDEA: How many bullets were recovered from the pantry itself?
BUTLER: I couldn’t give you a number today.
ZAC: And one of the cops Moldea had talked to came back to tell him that now he wasn’t so sure about what he had seen.
MOLDEA: At last interview you told me that Wolfer had pulled two bullets out of the center divider, were you there when he did that?
BUTLER: No I was not there when he was physically doing that.
MOLDEA: At that point he’s backing off whether he actually saw bullet slugs. I think what he might have done is that he might have gone back and said “Hey I talked to some journalist and told him about the extra bullets. And I told him.” And either someone said to him, “Oh my god you’ve blown our biggest secret of our major coverup here!” Or they said, “What the hell are you talking about there were no extra bullets.”
BUTLER: That’s something that will never be answered, you know why? Because no crime scene is ever pristine. Okay?
MOLDEA: Let me just say that the evidence is clear that the LAPD misrepresented key facts in the case, they destroyed material evidence, and they obstructed independent efforts to resolve the lingering issues of the case. That was our biggest objection with the LAPD’s performance in this. If you don’t assume police incompetence in these big murder cases then you know a lot of people can believe that conspiracies occur in these cases, especially when a civilian investigator like me with limited access and resources is looking for a conspiracy. And I was looking for a conspiracy.
These were not bullet holes, these were not bullet holes.
ZAC: Throughout the years, anyone inquiring about the LAPD’s investigation of the murder had sure seemed to stumble on something that felt like a conspiracy.
ALLARD LOWENSTEIN: After three years of asking where are the doorframes, where are the ceiling tiles we find out they were destroyed. Why were they destroyed?
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: You do not destroy evidence. I don’t care if the evidence is a Mack truck! You preserve it. In a case of this magnitude, which may have altered the course of American and world history. You take a door jamb like this you put it in a box and you mark it Sirhan and put it in the corner. You don’t destroy it!
PAUL SCHRADE: The authorities are really responsible, in great part, for the doubt, for the gaps in the evidence that we've discussed here this evening, and are doing nothing to allay those doubts, and therefore they have some responsibility in this.
MOLDEA: Again I think that they were they should have been they should have been in a full disclosure of total cooperation from the outset. And I think they were afraid that their work was going to be challenged unfairly as a result there would be all kinds of consequences to the police department and so they decided you know let's just keep it quiet.
DANIEL JENSEN: Everybody screws up, makes mistakes. Can you imagine what a crime scene this was?
ZAC: I asked Officer Daniel Jensen, the rookie cop from the last episode, why the police might hide information or evidence from the public.
ZAC: Did you get a sense that there might be some sort of cover up going on?
JENSEN: No. Cover ups no, I just describe them as screw ups. Back then there was a real siege mentality in that police department. We were more military than we were police officers. It was us, and the rest of you assholes. The chain of command was rigid, we took care of each other and we didn’t make mistakes. And if we did we buried them.
ZAC: So if there were no extra bullets and there was no second gun? Then how does Moldea think that Sirhan Sirhan, who all the eyewitnesses placed a few feet in front of Kennedy manage to shoot him at point blank range from behind, as the autopsy indicated.
MOLDEA: I think what happened was Kennedy's going through the kitchen pantry. He walks through Cesar is on his is on his shoulder. Seventy-seven people identified in the pantry at that time. And that was a very small area for seventy-seven people. As Sirhan with his revolver pulled opens fire. All these people who had seen what they had seen was based on their description of the first shot which missed Kennedy. It was a madhouse after that first shot it was a madhouse. These people were falling all over each other. They were diving for cover and everything else.
ZAC: According to Moldea this explains the discrepancies in all the eyewitness accounts of how far Sirhan was standing from Kennedy. Nobody actually saw how close he got because everyone was ducking for cover.
MOLDEA: I mean if I hear a shot my reaction is going to be to move to duck for cover to do something. People are going to be in motion in that room. To think that somebody is just dispassionately judging the shooting as it's going on is bullshit.
ZAC: And how did Kennedy end up shot from behind?
MOLDEA: Now Kennedy's reaction- what's Kennedy going to do? Go like this he's going to stick his chest out and stick his chest out and say shoot me. He he turns around like this.
ZAC: Moldea turns to the left raising his right arm to cover his face.
MOLDEA: Sirhan drives his gun right into him. One two three at point blank range. That’s what I think.
SIRHAN: I don’t know exactly, sir, what I was thinking about then. I don’t remember much of what happened.
NBC: You don’t remember much of what happened.
SIRHAN: I don’t remember.
NBC: You didn’t know while you were being held at the police station what had happened?
SIRHAN: No sir.
MOLDEA: Basically Sirhan’s story was he has no memory of that night. No memory. His movements, nothing, certainly doesn’t have any memory of the shooting. Going into the crime scene and gunning down Senator Kennedy. But I gotta tell you, if you just assume Sirhan is lying, everything falls into place.
Don’t forget, he was shooting that gun all day.
ZAC: Moldea reminds me that on the day of the assassination, Sirhan Sirhan spent the entire afternoon at a gun range, shooting his revolver.
ARCHIVAL: Another witness, Michael Zuckerman, he saw Sirhan practicing at a pistol range seven hours before the assassination. Zuckerman said the defendant used mini mag shells, a powerful bullet designed to kill. He asked Sirhan, “Why use such powerful shells?” Sirhan said, “I’m going hunting.”
ZAC: And Moldea discovered another troubling piece of evidence. Sirhan had sent a letter to his lawyer about an author named Robert Kaiser, who was on a press tour for his book “RFK Must Die”. Moldea read the letter to me.
MOLDEA: Quote “Hey punk, tell your friend Robert Kaiser to keep mouthing off about me like he’s been doing on radio and television. If he gets his brains splattered, he will have asked for it like Bobby Kennedy. Kennedy didn’t scare me, don’t think you or Kaiser will. Neither of you is beyond my reach. And if you don’t believe me, just tell your friend Robert Kaiser to show up on the news media again, I dare him. RBK must shut his trap or die.”
I became convinced, this guy did it. There is no doubt in my mind, Sirhan did it.
ZAC: The Sirhan Sirhan that Moldea describes is very different than the one I’ve heard about from Bill. And when I was talking to Moldea, I realized that I hadn’t really been considered the case from this angle.
Maybe the guy who had been caught with the gun at the scene, who had written in his diaries that RFK must die. Who had confessed to committing the murder. Maybe he had acted alone. And maybe police screw ups could explain a lot of the problems with the case. Is that the simplest explanation?
MOLDEA: This is it, I knew I wouldn’t get this again.
ZAC: But Moldea still needed an ending for his book. So he went to visit Sirhan in prison one last time and that meeting would inform Moldea’s final chapter.
MOLDEA: I didn't even attempt to conceal my feelings. I barked angrily at Sirhan, you don't remember writing in your notebooks in which you articulated your determination to kill Robert Kennedy and why. That’s motive. You don’t remember getting your gun. That’s means. You don't remember having been in the pantry getting close to Kennedy and firing your gun. That’s opportunity. Every time you have a memory lapse it goes to motive, means, or opportunity. Knowing how close Sirhan was to his ailing mother and understanding how much pain Sirhan knew he had inflicted on her. I asked Sirhan when your mother dies God forbid, are you going to remember everything and come clean. Now furious with me for having brought his mother into this. Sirhan exclaimed raising his voice with each syllable quote “Change my story? Mr. Moldea you're a motherfucker. Mr. Moldea, You're a fucking asshole.” I smiled at Sirhan and started jabbing my finger in his face. “Sirhan, It's Dan, you're a mother fucker. Dan, you're a fucking asshole.” I had just wanted Sirhan to remember the first name of his last hope and then I wanted nothing further to do with this assassin. Sirhan Bishara Sirhan consciously and knowingly murdered Senator Robert Kennedy and he acted alone.
NEWS: Welcome to Channel 4 news conference, today our guest is the author of the Killing of Robert F. Kennedy, he is investigative reporter Dan Moldea,
You went into this though that there was a conspiracy, didn’t you?
MOLDEA: Not only went into it but stayed into it. My evidence that i came up with really kept this case alive for a long time. I believed that there had been two guns fired at the scene.
ZAC: Moldea’s book felt like a blow to the conspiracy community. He had spent years in the trenches with them and had written 29 chapters of a book supporting their theories, only to end up concluding, in the final chapter, that Sirhan Sirhan had acted alone.
MOLDEA: I wrote a letter to everybody just saying I hope we can be friends without this conspiracy stuff interfering with our friendship because I liked all these people, I didn’t want to see it end. But for a lot of people it was an act of heresy on my part.
ZAC: When did you find out how his book was going to turn out?
BILL: When it came out.
ZAC: So you had no warning?
BILL: None that I remember, no. Just the book came out and I was very surprised. And also surprised at how many- the New York Times gave it two glowing reviews. A glowing review in the Sunday New York Times and a glowing review in the Weekday New York Times, two different reviewers and they both loved it. Best thing since sliced bread. Really incisive reasoning. I was- I guess devastated wasn’t the right word but uh, I was really uh, it it disturbed my mind because when I read the book- none of the pieces fit, and how can these reviewers read that book and come out saying these things that it was so carefully reasoned when the body of the book bore no relationship at all to the conclusions of the book.
MOLDEA: Anyone who disagrees with me fine. Just you know take the chapter 30 out of your frame of reference to just go through one through 29 and use that information as part of your own personal equation about what happened. Don't let Chapter 30 interfere with you know your alternative facts.
ZAC: When Moldea and Bill were working on their books, they were colleagues. Trying to come up with new ideas and theories on a journey of discovery. I asked Bill if he missed those days?
ZAC: There was this moment in time for I think for both you and Dan. Where you were just on the case, you didn’t have a side that you that had you had made up your mind about. You were much more like open to maybe it was this and maybe somedays you woke up thinking Oh god Sirhan maybe he did do it and some days you woke up thinking no. And you were wrestling with these things and then both of you had to like pick. And then your book comes out. And now some of that openness has to go away i guess and it’s much more about arguing that what you said in your book is right and what Dan said in his book is wrong. I guess. Do you feel that way or know what I’m talking about?
BILL: Yeah I know what you’re talking about but I don’t feel that way because I still think I am that person. Do I 100% know what happened? I don’t.
But in my opinion the evidence weighs very heavily in favor of a second gun. Very heavily.
MOLDEA: There’s no doubt in my mind about it that Sirhan did it and did it alone and that Cesar's an innocent man who's been wrongly accused.
ZAC: There's no doubt?
MOLDEA: No doubt.
ZAC: Cause you've gotta have a tiny bit of doubt.
MOLDEA: No doubt in my mind at all. None. None.
Listen the one thing that I could be right there may have been somebody behind Sirhan and he may have talked to somebody he may have been somebody pushing him forward.
ZAC: No doubt, huh?
MOLDEA: That I’ve always thought…
ZAC: You can never really close the door on a conspiracy theory.
MOLDEA: That always kind of haunts me a little bit. Especially because he mentions them in his journals...
ZAC: And as it turns out, this way of thinking, it didn't start with the Kennedys...
JESSE WALKER: Number one, we are a pattern seeking story telling creature. And number two, we're afraid of things. But when you combine fear with pattern seeking you're bound to have people imagining fearful patterns. And number three, on top of that sometimes people really do conspire.
ZAC: Our final episode, in two weeks.
Crimetown is me, Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling.
The RFK Tapes is made in partnership with Cadence 13.
The show is produced by Jesse Rudoy, Bill Klaber, Ula Kulpa, and Max Miller.
Austin Mitchell is our senior producer. Editing by Marc Smerling. Fact checking by Jennifer Blackman.
This episode was mixed, sound designed and scored by Kenny Kusiak. Additional music by John Kusiak. Our title track is Maria Tambien by Khruangbin. Our credit track this week is The Feast by Katie Kim.
Music supervision by Josh Kessler and Dylan Bostick at Heavy Duty Projects.
Production assistance by Kevin Shepherd. Our website is designed by Curt Courtenay.
Recording help from Sean Cherry, Shelby Royston, Marc Sterne and the crew at Tony Kornheiser’s Chatter studio.
Archival footage courtesy of Dan Moldea, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and the California State Archives. Archival research by Brennan Rees.
Thanks to Emily Wiedemann, Greencard Pictures, Alessandro Santoro, Ryan Murdock, Judith Farrar, Elizabeth Benham, and the team at Cadence 13.
For more information on the Robert Kennedy murder, pick up a copy of Bill’s book, Shadow Play or Dan’s book, The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy.
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