Talk:Mary Jo Kopechne

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"However tidal records indicated that the tide was running in the opposite direction at the time of the supposed attempted rescue."

Can someone explain the relevance of this? There could still be rip current, and in my experience anytime you're in the ocean regardless of tide direction there's the tendency to be at least partially brought out with the returning current. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:46, 25 January 2008 (UTC)


Wasn't Mary Jo on Bobby Kennedy's campaign staff? --Rj 20:29, Apr 25, 2004 (UTC)


Why didn't Mary Jo's parents exact any revenge?

Money? Loyalty? Belief in Kennedy's innocence combined with not wanting to get on the bad side of a future president? Calbaer 21:21, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
They never asked because they were afraid it would look like they were seeking blood money. Spelling Style (talk) 00:01, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Why did her parents not want an autopsy proformed? Has there been any evidence that she might have been pregnant?

Because that wouldn't bring her back to life, and if she did turn out to be pregnant, they didn't want that all over the papers. Though personally I don't see why it was their choice -- IMO autopsies should be mandatory in these kind of situations. (talk) 23:49, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The person above me did not provide a good reason. The parents went to court and decided not to have an autopsy done even though authorities later found some blood on her after being dragged out of the car (no one knew whether or not that was from the scene in the car or even before she got in). Spelling Style (talk) 00:01, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

depth of water[edit]

I was about to remove that (again) myself, Rick. The only data I can find are that the pond was from 6 to 30 feet deep (though certainly it means 0 to 30 feet deep),

The Marianas Trench is 10-12 miles deep there is no 0 feet until you hit Guam or count the boat as zero feet.

Driving over an embankment would be no different than jumping off a boat. Zero feet would be around a beach.

except in those sources seeking to lambaste Kennedy. Lokifer, if you have something credible (IIRC, there may be a photo of the divers, but I couldn't find it), I have no problem with having this detail in place. But it'll require some rewriting rather than just stuffing it in there, because Kennedy didn't claim the water was six feet deep. Blair P. Houghton 23:51, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

That is exactly the problem that I'm having with proof about the depth of the water. There were photos of the car being pulled out of the water at the time, but I've been unable to locate them. I've been trying to dig up what people would consider credible sources (not the politically biased sites that litter the internet) that states the depth of the water. And since Rickk is questioning the reason that it's valid, one of the things that hurt Kennedy's image was not just the drunk claim and supposed inability to act, but that the water wasn't very deep on the day that it happened.Lokifer 00:22, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I cleaned it up. It said the car overturned, then that it was upside down, within 10 words. I adjusted the logical flow lower down. I changed it to say she worked for RFK rather than TK. I added a link to Kennedy's speech; and I've removed the link to the Times site because they want 5 bucks from everyone who wants to see the data. Sick. Blair P. Houghton 07:09, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I had to add the "six feet of water" to the article again. Besides the Time magazine article from November 1979, I can cite other sources that all agree that it was six feet of water. The FBI report entitled "The Perjury of Edward Kennedy" states that the car was six feet underwater. John Farrer, the scuba diver, guessed that the car was six to seven feet underwater. And from Ted Kennedy in his testimony he states that he waded to the car and that he could stand next to the car. Additionally, he stated that while holding onto the car when trying to save Mary Jo, the water reached up to some point on his body (the exact point is not detailed in the report). Since he is slightly taller than six feet tall, all his descriptions of the depth of water would indicate about six feet of water.Lokifer 00:28, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

depth of water again[edit]

As I've shown in the Ted Kennedy talk, the water level was six feet deep. My count so far has five sources stating that it was six feet of water: 1) Ted Kennedy states in his testimony that when he tried to save Mary Jo, he could stand next to the car...making it about six feet deep. 2) Ted Kennedy states that he had to hold on to the car because of the current and indicates (the source doesn't show where exactly he indictates) where the water level is at...making it around six feet, with a liberal area of about one foot above or below his height. 3) The scuba diver that removed Mary Jo from the car then the car from the pond states that the water was about six or seven feet deep. 4) Edgartown Police Chief Dominick Arena's police report and a diagram of the accident has it stated that the water was six feet deep. 5) An article in Time Magazine from 1979, ten years after the incident, has it stated that the water level was six feet deep. By my count, that's four sources from 1969, including two from Kennedy himself.Lokifer 07:42, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The only one that's a reliable fact is Farrar's, and he was working at low tide. Where Patterson erred is the tides aren't 12 hours apart, they're closer to 11 hours apart (Patterson is no sailor). The tide would have been rushing at its peak velocity when Kennedy was in the water, not still, and not at its minimum depth. Kennedy's indication is (a) unknown and (b) relative to the bottom of the car and (c) gives us absolutely no indication of the actual depth of the water. The fact that many sources quote Farrar and/or Patterson does nothing to change the fact that the water MUST have been deeper than six feet at the time the car went into the water, the time Kennedy was trying to save Kopechne, and the time the other two men were trying to save her. We have no idea how deep, we only know "six feet" is almost certainly wrong. Blair P. Houghton 18:00, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)[edit]

Why is the author stating that an "undertaker" stated the cause of death was due to suffocation and not drowning? An undertaker buries people. Perhaps the author meant "coroner." Even still there seems to be no documentation for such bizarre claims as undertakers declaring cause of death. Near-breathless bias runs not quite between the lines in this article. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Gamaliel (talk • contribs) 28 Oct 2005.

Why no autopsy[edit]

Under law, how could there have been no autopsy? How can a family petition to not have one? The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 19 Jan 2006.

reporting of accident[edit]

Ted did not report the accident until after contacted by then Police Chief Arena. This is fact and is reported as such in Leo Damore's "Senatorial Privilege". This was also brought out at the inquest. This point has never been disputed in public, why here? You can't change the facts. To ignore the truth makes this work a lie. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

These seems contradictory to the Ted Kennedy page, which reads: "Kennedy discussed the accident with several people, including his lawyer and Kopechne's parents, before he contacted the police 10 hours after the accident." -- Did he call the police or did the police call him? Ken 22:39, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

The reason for no autopsy is because her cause of death was determined to be drowning, and the family could have requested that no autopsy be performed. Today when a person dies under suspicious circumstances, there is an automatic autopsy ordered. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Niteraider1 (talkcontribs) 19:19, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

The reason that it took Ted Kennedy a long time to report the accident was his family and attorneys were probably sobering Kennedy up enough to talk to police. Ted was known to be a heavy drinker and drank more after the death of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Kennedy's story about several attempts to save Kopechne, were all probably false so that Kennedy could save face.

The death of Kopechne was the reason that Kennedy never rose above the US Senate. People could not forget that night off Martha's Vineyard, when Kennedy left Kopechne to die, while he went to sober up to answer questions. The probation that Kennedy received was laughable, and showed the reach of Kennedy money.

However, the Kennedy money could not buy Ted the White House, after Mary Jo Kopechne was murdered, and Kennedy dodged another run in with police in Florida when his nephew was arrested and tried for rape. People reported that Ted was running around the property drunk and only wearing a white dress shirt.

Kennedy tamed after his last marriage when wife Vicki announced that Ted's drinking and carousing days were over for good. Kennedy sobered up and lived a healthy life until stricken with brain cancer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Niteraider1 (talkcontribs) 19:28, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Please bear in mind that this article is not primarily about Ted Kennedy or the Chappaquiddick incident, both of which have their own articles. It is about the life of Mary Jo Kopechne. Wasted Time R (talk) 00:53, 27 August 2009 (UTC)


The Ted Kennedy page says all but one of the men were married and attending without their wives. This page says all were married. Which is it? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 25 June 2006.

I believe John Crimmins, the chauffeur, was not married. Perhaps someone can confirm and revise this page. Stuart H. Alden (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 17:33, 26 August 2009 (UTC).

Desperately needs citation[edit]

Given WP:BLP and the fact that Ted Kennedy is alive, this article desperately needs better citation. I think it is essentially accurate, but according to WP:BLP, that is not enough. - Jmabel | Talk 03:14, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Nasty phone calls[edit]

"Bruce Roberts' Gemstone letters assert that Mary Jo Kopechne left the party at the cottage because Teddy Kennedy became involved in some nasty phone calls at the cottage." This seems out of place with respect to the Bobby Baker Scandal section. Besides that it's pretty vague ("nasty?"). If Mary Jo were offended by Ted Kennedy's "nasty phone calls," so much so that she wanted to leave the party, then why would she want a ride home from the same man? Mason1024 15:31, 17 October 2007 (UTC)


Ted Kennedy's sentence is given as 6 months in the "Death" section, but given as 2 months plus one-year probation in the "Aftermath" section. Neither cites a source. One (or both) is wrong.


The article says that a fisherman found the car. Other versions say that two fishermen found it. The text implies that the fisherman pulled the car out of the water, but this seems to have been done later by others. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:58, 15 December 2008 (UTC) The article on the Chappaquiddick Incident says that two fishermen found the car. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:08, 15 December 2008 (UTC) The site says that the car was pulled out of the water by the Police, not the fishermen. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:59, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Long duplicative incident description removed from article[edit]

This article had a very long, detailed account of the Chappaquiddick incident that was largely duplicative of the one in the Chappaquiddick incident article. This is not the right way to do things; the whole point of that article is to be the one central place for a lengthy description of the incident, with other articles such as this one, Ted Kennedy, etc. briefly summarizing it and pointing to that article. This Mary Jo Kopechne article should be about her life, not her death, to the maximum extent possible. This course of action was also recommended in the AfD comments for this article.

I have thus done this. Where there are significant differences between the account that was here and the account that is there, I don't know, but since the account at Chappaquiddick incident has some inline citations and this one had none, I have left the account there intact. Anyone who thinks this article's account (which is still available in the History) had material that deserves to be merged into Chappaquiddick incident can do so.

I have moved and merged this article's incident-specific "Further reading" and "External links" entries into the similar sections at Chappaquiddick incident. Wasted Time R (talk) 23:56, 3 March 2009 (UTC)


Come on, this is just ridiculous:

Mary Jo Kopechne (July 26, 1940 – July 18, 1969) was an American teacher, secretary and political campaign specialist who was murdered by United States Senator Ted Kennedy in a staged car accident on Chappaquiddick Island.

[19:00, July 26, 2009]

This article gets vandalized fairly often, and this was one instance of that. Putting a {{POV-check}} tag on an obviously vandalized article isn't really the proper course of action; you should have just reverted the vandalism. That was subsequently done by other editors, and I've removed the tag. Wasted Time R (talk) 22:05, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree that this editing of the main article is ridiculous, but do believe Ted Kennedy could have saved Mary Jo. I have used this fabulous internet to research the occurence that led up to her death.
The person who changed the introduction paragraph should have used the 'Discussion' forum instead of altering the main page; because Kennedy had not been found guilty or culpable of the death of Mary Jo.

God did it! :O The One and Only Worldwise Dave Shaver 03:29, 2 August 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jaxdave (talkcontribs)

Please bear in mind that this article is not primarily about Ted Kennedy or the Chappaquiddick incident, both of which have their own articles. It is about the life of Mary Jo Kopechne. Wasted Time R (talk) 00:54, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

The people who keep saying Mary Jo Kopechne was "murdered" need to be reported to Wikipedia and banned from all future edits. Free Republic is putting them up to this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:49, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

Why doesnt this article cover more recent findings?[edit]

It is my understanding that the accident happened in a secluded residential area. Residents called the police because of the strange car in the area. Because Kennedy was under the influence and with a single women, he instructed Mary Joe to drive herself home and he swam across the bay that night. She normally drove a Volkswagon beetle, was also under the influence and in the dark on the narrow road in the large car, she missed the bridge and drove in to the water. The car turned upside down in the water, and disoriented, she could not find the door handle in the unfamiliar car. Kennedy was not aware that she did not make it home until the next morning, when he was told by an associate that she had drowned. Witnesses at the hotel where Kennedy was staying remarked that he was in a good mood until this visit, and then had a noticeable change in demeanor. This seems completely plausible, was the topic of a nationally televised documentary, and makes more sense than him leaving her behind to drown. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

You want the Chappaquiddick incident article, where theories along this line are discussed. This article here intentionally focused on Kopechne's life, and doesn't get into theories. Wasted Time R (talk) 00:37, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

1. The recent rumor being floated that politically malevolent forces tried to stop the movie’s creation is, IMO, nothing but a clever PR stunt. Great grab air time any way you can get it when the story you intend to tell doesn’t touch the real issues. 2. The 2 mega-issues that won’t be touched are: A. Kennedy was obviously NOT in the car when Mary-Jo drove off and drowned. B. Why, in direct violation of Massachusetts law, was her body not autopsied? 3. The answer to 2A should be clear to anyone over the age to six. Kennedy and Mary-Jo drove off into the moonlight because, as he declared in sworn testimony, she was “desirous” of an evening drive. Hmmm. 4. When their car was spotted with its lights off on that deserted road by a cruising police office, Kennedy absolutely could not afford to be caught with an unmarried woman. He jumped out of the car, told her to drive back by herself, and he would meet her at the party. 5. Kennedy passed several (3?) homes on his return march which had lights on indicating occupancy. Had he just failed in rescuing Mary-Jo,. He could have stopped at any one of them and called the police. But, since he had no idea that she was in trouble, he kept on going. 6. Mary-Jo, small and slipped into the driver’s seat, adjusted for six-footer Kennedy and drove off in a mild panic. She could not see well and drove off the road into the water where she drowned. 7. Kennedy returned to the hotel where he was staying and where the party was. No follow this: A. He went up to his room and changed into dry clothing, and took a nap. (Mesnwhile she is still trapped in the car?) B. He came down to the front desk and asked what time it was (like he doesn’t have a wristwatch?) in order to establish his presence at the hotel at that time. C. He returned to the party!!! This after his heroic failed rescue attempt? In fact, he was waiting for May-Jo’s return. D. The next morning, when the news of Mary-Jo’s disappearance become know, did Kenney run off to the police? No. He assembled an emergency meeting of his aids who met for HOURS debating what tale to tell before going to the police. 8. Why was Mary-Jo not autopsied? My guess is that would uncover the fact that she was pregnant, possibly by Kennedy. And that would open up a can of worms even Kennedy could not have survived. 9. Finally, will the movie mention that the day after her death, the Cardinal of Boston personally called on Mary-Jo’s parents in New Jersey for a long discussion? (talk) 21:59, 3 April 2018 (UTC)


Any news on her parents? Death years? They would be past average life expectancy now, her father born in 1913 and mother 1918. The only mention I have ever found of them was a 1989 article in People, where the father lamented that he suspected the incident was not reported sooner because Kennedy was too concerned about his then-campaign to be president, while her mother noted that she heard a lot and did not believe anything. (Kennedy refuted he had been deeply investigated a couple times despite his fame and told everyone everything he knew.) At the time, they were both in their seventies. I am assuming they just had to live life after losing their only child. Spelling Style (talk) 00:04, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Her parents lived quite a long time and died in 2003 and 2007: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:56, 11 October 2016 (UTC)

Her date of death[edit]

I am wondering why we say Kopechne died on 18 July 1969, when we have the following at Chappaquiddick incident:

  • Christopher "Huck" Look was a deputy sheriff working as a special police officer at the Edgartown regatta dance that night. At 12:30 a.m. [i.e. on 19 July] he left the dance, crossed over to Chappaquiddick in the yacht club's launchboat, got into his parked car and drove toward his home, which was south of the Dike Bridge. He testified that between 12:30 and 12:45 a.m. he had seen a dark car containing a man driving and a woman in the front seat approaching the intersection with Dike Road. The car had gone first onto the private Cemetery Road and stopped there. Thinking that the occupants of the car might be lost, Look had gotten out of his car and walked toward it. When he was 25 to 30 feet away, the car started backing towards him. When Look called out to offer his help, the car moved quickly eastward, towards the ocean, along Dike Road in a cloud of dust.[7] Look recalled that the car's license plate began with an "L" and contained two "7"'s, both details true of Kennedy's 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88.

By my reading, that says she was still very much alive and being driven as a passenger by Ted Kennedy at 12:30 – 12:45 am on 19 July, and the accident occurred some time after this. In other words, she could not have been dead as early as 18 July. Judge Boyle concluded that "The accident occurred "between 11:30 p.m. on July 18 and 1:00 a.m. on July 19", which is not conclusive but at least allows the possibility of a later date of death. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 23:48, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

July 18 seems to be the date that most subsequent news stories about this used. See here or here or here or here or here for example. So this article follows their lead. Wasted Time R (talk) 10:12, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Funeral Coincides With Apollo 11[edit]

Mary-jo was buried within 48 hours of the first manned moon landing, when the media was still frantically busy with coverage of that event. Is it possible that Kennedy influence was brought to bear to arrange the funeral as close to this event as possible, in order to "bury" the funeral story? Has anyone ever investigated this? (talk) 22:55, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

Reference 21 is currently a dead link. Invertzoo (talk) 00:00, 19 July 2017 (UTC)


There is a discrepancy between this page and the Chappaquiddick Incident page. This claims she was buried on the 22nd, and that one that she was buried the day after she was found dead (the 19th). Which is correct? The citation for this page does not actually mention the burial date, but the article was from the 22nd. That the source of the issue? (talk) 17:07, 21 March 2018 (UTC) Above - the day after would be the 2oth the Apollo 11 landing, I meant the 19th to be the day she was found. (talk) 17:08, 21 March 2018 (UTC)

As noted in the history section, I changed "Internment" to "Interment". — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1002:B11A:B554:42C8:BBC:BDFB:6DDC (talk) 04:13, 9 April 2018 (UTC)


What's this, in the Chappaquiddick incident page, about her purse and hotel key being left behind at the party? Could she have forgotten them? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1002:B11A:B554:42C8:BBC:BDFB:6DDC (talk) 04:17, 9 April 2018 (UTC)

No, it just confirmed that they were out for a drive, and not heading for the ferry. Valetude (talk) 11:26, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

Unhelpful edits[edit]

  • Wikipedia articles must keep events in historical perspective, and not write about fifty-year-old events as if they happened last year. Please read the essay WP:RECENTISM. In 1969, Kennedy was publicly known in the news media (e.g. as reported by Walter Cronkite) as "Senator Edward M. Kennedy". At that time, he was only referred to as "Ted Kennedy" by his family and close friends. The public news media (e.g. CNN, MSNBC) didn't start the modern trend of calling him "Senator Ted Kennedy" until much after this, probably around the 1980s, by which time the US public etiquette had changed to be more "chummy" and familiar with references to public figures. Our WP:COMMONNAME policy only refers to biographical article titles, not to all references to a topic in other article text. Both names refer to the same person. Please stop reverting this.
  • "Car accident" is too informal a tone for encyclopedias. The phrase "automobile accident" is commonly understandable and conforms to encyclopedic tone. JustinTime55 (talk) 12:16, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Must disagree about 'automobile accident'. Nobody uses that phrase, and it just sounds deliberately formalised or stilted. Really can't see what's wrong with 'car accident'. Valetude (talk) 22:16, 24 June 2020 (UTC)