As the nation marks 60 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an Eden Prairie woman and researcher offers a unique perspective on what remains, for many, an enduring mystery.
While the official conclusion of the Warren Commission is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, Pamela McElwain-Brown holds a different perspective.
“Oh, definitely,” she affirmed. “Oswald was a patsy. That’s what he said he was. Ironically, many of the still-repressed files, which have not been released, are related to Oswald. I believe that’s why they’re being withheld. These files also have other connections, and retaining them is likely due to concerns about national security.”
McElwain-Brown has dedicated years to researching her specific niche of the assassination: the presidential limousine, known as “SS100X,” in which Kennedy was riding on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.
“To me, it’s the crime scene,” she said.
The 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine (X-100 was the code name given to the car by the Secret Service) resides roughly 1,200 miles from Dallas. It’s on display in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
She has combed through photos and files at the Ford museum and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, pursuing fragments of information about the assassination and the presidential limousine.
McElwain-Brown’s research, featured in various books, lectures, and TV programs, includes serving as the limousine researcher for the Discovery Channel documentary “JFK: Inside the Target Car.” Her essay “SS100X,” which examines the assassination and the limousine, was included in the 2002 book “Car Crash Culture” (Palgrave Macmillan). An updated version of the essay, titled “SS100X Revisited,” is available on Amazon.
Exploring her website and blog provides an overview of McElwain-Brown’s research on the limousine. The vehicle, now painted black instead of its original midnight blue, appears markedly different from the black-and-white photos on her website and is equipped with a permanent rooftop.
Soon after the assassination, the limousine was completely dismantled and rebuilt into a bulletproof vehicle for presidential use. This upgraded version remained in service until 1977. It first appeared on display at the museum in 1983.
She said the Kennedy assassination is notable because the involved limousine was nearly undamaged. The car was almost untouched, yet post-assassination, she said efforts were made to downplay its role as the crime scene.
“It’s sitting there, and it’s got this little plaque saying this is the JFK limo, but it doesn’t explain what happened to it between the time JFK was riding in it and the time they’re looking at it,” she said. “So it was very confusing. When I was in the research room, I would spend my lunch break coming out and talking to people and explaining to them how this car was transformed into the car they see today. They were amazed. They didn’t know; there is no reference at that time to anything about what the car looked like originally.”
McElwain-Brown’s intrigue in the assassination began not too long after the shooting. She amassed a collection of books, newspapers, and magazines on the subject. However, her enthusiasm diminished following the collapse of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into the assassination, leading her to lose hope that anyone would ever unravel the mystery.
Her interest in the assassination was reignited in 1988 when a friend recommended she read “Best Evidence” by David Lifton. The book, known for its analysis and the theory that Kennedy’s autopsy evidence was manipulated, renewed her passion for the case.
McElwain-Brown explained her decision to concentrate her research exclusively on the presidential limousine associated with the assassination.
“I said to myself, well, I’m coming late into the game, and everybody’s got all this research done, and I didn’t want to trample on anybody’s territory. However, nobody had spent time with the limousine; there was no research on the limousine,” she explained. “So, I chose a narrow niche focused on the limousine where I could contribute without fear of ridicule. Additionally, I was determined to make information about it accessible to the public when the time came. That’s how I began my research journey.”
Grief and dedication
McElwain-Brown said her research on the Kennedy assassination was central to her relationship with her late husband, Donner Brown. The couple met in a JFK assassination research newsgroup in 1997 and fell in love, eventually collaborating closely on their research.
“We did have JFK in common,” she said. “But we never agreed on anything, which made it so wonderful. He was somewhat of a conspiracy theorist. I would present ideas, and he would always counter with something I hadn’t thought of. I never really knew if he believed Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or not. It was a mystery. Sometimes mysteries are good.”
Since Donner’s sudden death in 2016, which coincidentally happened on JFK’s birthday, McElwain-Brown has been less active in her assassination research.
“I’ve been absolutely devastated,” she said. “Whenever I try to start another project or research, I feel this void. We always did everything together. So, I’ve stayed away from anything painful. We went to Dallas together in 2013. In 2020, I did an e-book on Bob Dylan’s song ‘Murder Most Foul.’ But that’s about the only thing I’ve done since then. I’m on the fringe, still working with JFK research groups, but I haven’t thrown myself into the fray like before.”
McElwain-Brown and Donner had planned a series of books focused on the limousine.
“We wanted to focus on the planning, construction, tours the limo went on, the assassination, and the rebuild after the assassination,” she said. “We had it all planned out. It hasn’t happened yet because Donner isn’t here to do it with me.”
McElwain-Brown said she is ready to resume her pursuit of uncovering the truth behind the assassination, with plans to update her website as a means of reconnecting with the public.
“I’d like to say that I’ll be one of those making a breakthrough,” she said. “So people can at least have a consistent viewpoint, backed by documentation, to form their own opinions. That’s the most I can hope for. I used to want to persuade everyone, but I’ve realized it’s more important that each of us, as citizens, can think for ourselves and decide what to believe based on clear reasoning.”
Assassination’s lingering questions
Does McElwain-Brown believe that the complete truth about JFK’s assassination will ever come to light?
Over time, she said fragments of information have emerged, thanks in part to investigations such as the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) and the Church Committee. These inquiries revealed different aspects directly or indirectly related to the assassination, including the involvement of the CIA and their adeptness at covert activities, according to McElwain-Brown.
However, she feels that there are still forces within the government obscuring the full story.
“I think there is an ongoing cover-up,” she added.
At the core of McElwain-Brown’s perspective on the assassination lies a distinctive and less commonly heard theory. She posits that concerns related to JFK’s presidency and its impact on Israel’s interests played a central role in the event. According to her theory, specific individuals within the U.S. government, while not representing Israel directly, supported Israel’s goals, including territorial expansion and acquiring nuclear capabilities.
“And if JFK had been reelected as president in 1964, I don’t think those events would have unfolded,” she asserted.
In 2013, during the assassination’s 50th anniversary in Dallas, she became disillusioned with the mainstream media, doubting they would ever fully disclose the truth.
“In my opinion, the mainstream press is complicit in the cover-up,” she said. “The real question is what they’re concealing. I have theories, ironically connected to Bob Dylan’s ‘Murder Most Foul,’ which I explored in my latest presentation.”
Dylan’s 2020 song delves into the JFK assassination and its impact on American culture, perpetuating the fascination and mystery surrounding the event.
Intrigued by Bob Dylan’s intentions and stance on the Warren Commission report, McElwain-Brown analyzed the song. She found it rich in conspiracy allusions. This led her to write an ebook titled “Deconstructing Murder Most Foul.” Additionally, she maintains a blog on Bob Dylan named Dylagence.
Regarding Dylan’s stance on the assassination, she noted, “He never provided a definitive statement. As we know, he’s masterful at hinting, concealing, and revealing in his unique, complex way. He’s not one for straightforward answers.”
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