Norma Jean Lollis Hill (February 11, 1931 – November 7, 2000) was an eyewitness to the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Hill was known as the "Lady in Red" because of the long red raincoat she wore that day, as seen in the Abraham Zapruder's film of the assassination. A teacher by profession, she was a consultant for Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK and co-wrote "JFK: The Last Dissenting Witness" with Bill Sloan.
Many of Hill's claims have been officially disputed (though some researchers who doubt the conclusions of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination consider her a reliable witness). Among other things, she claimed to have seen Jack Ruby, the killer of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, at the scene of the assassination in Dealey Plaza when other witnesses placed him in the offices of The Dallas Morning News at the time. In 1992, she co-wrote a book titled The Last Dissenting Witness, in which she claimed that her reported testimony before the Warren Commission was fabricated by the commission.
Background and early life
Hill was born and raised in Oklahoma. She earned a degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and taught in the Dallas public school system for over 20 years. Hill had two children, Jeanne and Billy.
Eyewitness to the assassination of John F. Kennedy
Hill was present along with her friend Mary Moorman across from the grassy knoll, and was one of the very nearest witnesses to President Kennedy when the shots were fired at him. Moorman can be seen in the Zapruder film taking pictures, which Hill claims were taken and bleached out. At Zapruder frame 313, when Kennedy was shot in the head, Hill was only 21 feet (6.4 m) away, leftward, and slightly behind him. In her Warren Commission testimony, she stated that a Secret Service agent told her right after the attack that another Secret Service agent, watching from the courthouse, saw a bullet strike "at my feet" and kick up debris.
She testified to the Warren Commission that after the assassination she watched a man running from near the Texas School Book Depository toward the picket fence area. After watching this man, Hill crossed the street and was one of many witnesses and authorities who first ran toward the grassy knoll after the shots ended.
- Mrs. Jean L. Hill stated that after the firing stopped she saw a white man wearing a brown overcoat and a hat running west away from the Depository Building in the direction of the railroad tracks. She has since stated when she saw a photo of Jack Ruby after his killing of Lee Harvey Oswald she now believes he was the man she saw running. You can see in the Zapruder film that she was clearly looking into the direction of the Texas School Book Depository while the president is right in front of her which appears to support her story of looking at someone running just after the assassination. There are no other witnesses who claim to have seen a man running toward the railroad tracks. Examination of all the available films of the area following the shooting, reexamination of the interviews with individuals in the vicinity of the shooting, and the interviews with members of the Dallas police department and the Dallas Country sheriff's office failed to corroborate Mrs. Hill's recollection or to reveal the identity of the man described by Mrs. Hill. (Warren Commission Report, p. 640)
Hill was also one of several witnesses who stated that at the end of the assassination they saw smoke lingering near the grassy knoll picket fence corner, although she made no mention of this when discussing the grassy knoll in her Warren Commission testimony. During her commission testimony, Hill stated that as the limousine came abreast of her she saw what she thought was a small white dog between President Kennedy and his wife.
Perhaps her most explosive claim, made in her book and in the video "Beyond JFK" (and other places) was that she actually saw a shooter on the grassy knoll. However, that was not part of her original testimony. On the day of the assassination, she was interviewed by Jimmy Darnell of WBAP-TV and asked "Did you see the person who fired the . . .?" Hill replied "No, I didn't see any person fire the weapon, I only heard it."
Hill always thought of herself as a survivor after many of the other witnesses to the assassination died shortly thereafter under supposedly mysterious circumstances. She has even claimed that she received death threats and that the brake lines of her auto were cut shortly after the assassination. In a June 2000 interview with Len Osanic, Hill discussed her plans to publish another book in the near future.
According to Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, changes in Hill's story over time led researchers of the Kennedy assassination to considered Hill a "controversial witness".
Later life and death
Hill was reported to have avoided publicity for nearly 25 years after testifying to the Warren Commission. She worked as a consultant for Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK, and was portrayed in the movie by Ellen McElduff.
In 1992, Hill and Dallas journalist Bill Sloan released "JFK: The Last Dissenting Witness". Stone wrote the forward for the book. Publishers Weekly said The Last Dissenting Witness "was often engaging, sometimes infuriating" and that Hill's "story is salutary for those overly respectful of official authority."
Hill was reported to have spoken to groups about her experience during the last few years of her life. On November 7, 2000, she died of complications due to a blood disease in Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the same hospital to which Kennedy was rushed after being fatally shot.
- "'Lady in Red' JFK assassination witness dies at 69". CNN.com. Reuters. November 9, 2000. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
- DeShong, Rae D. (November 10, 2000). "Eyewitness to JFK assassination". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. p. C14. Retrieved July 20, 2014. Syndicated from the Dallas Morning News.
- Richard Trask, Pictures of the Pain, p. 239.
- Publishers Weekly (March 1, 1992). "JFK". http://www.publishersweekly.com. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
- Hill's testimony to the Warren Commission
- Jean Hill: The Lady in Red by Prof. John McAdams
- The JFK 100: One Hundred Errors of Fact and Judgment in Oliver Stone’s JFK: Eyewitness Jean Hill by David Reitzes
- Jean Hill — The Lady in Red by Peter R. Whitmey
- Jean Hill obituary page
- Spartacus Educational biography
- "Jean Hill". Find a Grave. Retrieved October 14, 2010.