Sara Jane Moore

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Sara Jane Moore
Born Sara Jane Kahn
(1930-02-15) February 15, 1930 (age 84)
Charleston, West Virginia, US
Criminal charge
Attempted assassination of US president Gerald Ford
Criminal penalty
Life sentence
Criminal status
Paroled

Sara Jane Moore (née Kahn; born February 15, 1930) is an American citizen best known for attempting to assassinate US President Gerald Ford in 1975.[1][2] She was given a life sentence for the attempted assassination and was released from prison on December 31, 2007, after serving 32 years. Moore and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme hold the distinction of being the only two women who have ever attempted to assassinate an American president.

Background[edit]

Moore was born in Charleston, West Virginia, the daughter of Ruth (née Moore) and Olaf Kahn.[3] Her paternal grandparents were German immigrants.[4] Moore had been a nursing school student, Women's Army Corps recruit, and accountant. Divorced five times, she had four children before she turned to revolutionary politics in 1975.[5][6]

Moore's friends said that she had a fascination and an obsession with Patricia Hearst.[7] After Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, her father Randolph Hearst created the organization People In Need to feed the poor as a response to the SLA's claims that the elder Hearst was "committing 'crimes' against 'the people.'"[7] Moore was a bookkeeper for P.I.N. and an FBI informant[5][7][8] when she attempted to assassinate Ford.

Moore comes from a Christian background.[4] She later began practicing Judaism.[9]

Attempted assassination of Gerald Ford[edit]

Reaction approximately one second after the assassination attempt

Moore had been evaluated by the Secret Service earlier in 1975, but agents decided that she posed no danger to the President.[10] She had been picked up by police on an illegal handgun charge the day before the Ford incident, but was released. The police confiscated her .44 caliber revolver and 113 rounds of ammunition.

Moore's assassination attempt took place in San Francisco on September 22, 1975, just 17 days after Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme's attempted assassination of Ford. She was about 40 feet away from President Ford[11] when she fired a single shot at him with a different firearm, a .38 caliber revolver.[2] She was standing in the crowd across the street from the St. Francis Hotel. She was using a gun she bought in haste that same morning and did not know the sights were six inches off the point-of-impact at that distance and she narrowly missed.[12] FBI case agent Richard Vitamanti measured the location the next day. After realizing she had missed, she raised her arm again, and Oliver Sipple, a Marine no longer on active duty, dived towards her, knocking her arm the second time, perhaps saving President Ford's life. U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti, still on the bench in 2010, spoke on the record, that Moore would have killed President Ford had she had her own gun, and it was only "because her gun was faulty" that the President's life was spared.[12] During her second attempt, Sipple grabbed Moore's arm and then pulled her to the ground.[13][14] Sipple said at the time: "I saw [her gun] pointed out there and I grabbed for it. [...] I lunged and grabbed the woman's arm and the gun went off."[15] The single shot which Moore did fire from her .38 caliber revolver ricocheted off the entrance to the hotel[16] and it slightly injured a bystander.[8]

Trial and imprisonment[edit]

Moore pleaded guilty[17] to attempted assassination and was sentenced to life in prison.[18][19] At her sentencing hearing Moore stated: "Am I sorry I tried? Yes and no. Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life. And, no, I'm not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger."[12] In 1979, Moore escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia, but was captured only hours later.[20] After her return, she was transferred to a more secure facility, and she served the remainder of her term at the federal women’s prison in Dublin, California, where she worked in the Unicor Prison Industry for $1.25 per hour as the Lead Inmate Operating Accountant .[11][21]

In an interview in 2004, former President Ford described Moore as "off her mind" and said that he continued making public appearances, even after two attempts on his life within such a short time, because "a President has to be aggressive, has to meet the people."[22] Moore had the Federal Bureau of Prisons register number 04851-180.[23]

Release[edit]

On December 31, 2007, at age 77, Moore was released from prison on parole after serving 32 years of her life sentence. Ford had died from natural causes on December 26, 2006, one year and five days before her release. Moore has stated that she regrets the assassination attempt, saying she was "blinded by her radical political views".[24][25] She will be under supervised parole for at least five years. Moore was released under a federal law that makes parole mandatory for inmates who have served at least 30 years of a life sentence and have maintained a satisfactory disciplinary record. When asked about her crime in an interview, Moore stated, "I am very glad I did not succeed. I know now that I was wrong to try."[26]

Media[edit]

On May 28, 2009, Moore appeared on NBC's Today program, her first television appearance since leaving prison on parole.[27]

Moore also discussed her 1979 escape from prison. She revealed that an inmate told her, "...when jumping the fence just put your hand on the barbed wire, you'll only have a few puncture wounds." She went on to say, "If I knew that I was going to be captured several hours later, I would have stopped at the local bar just to get a drink and a burger."[28]

Other[edit]

Moore's story is one of nine told in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical Assassins. Moore, John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz appear in "The Gun Song."

A biography of Moore was published in 2009 entitled Taking Aim at the President, by Geri Spieler, a writer who had a correspondence with Moore for twenty-eight years.[29][30]

Quotes[edit]

  • “I do regret I didn't succeed, and allow the winds of change to start. I wish I had killed him. I did it to create chaos.” (1975)[31][32]
  • “I didn’t want to kill anybody, but there comes a point when the only way you can make a statement is to pick up a gun.”[1][6]
  • “The government had declared war on the left. Nixon's appointment of Ford as Vice President and his resignation making Ford President seemed to be a continuing assault on America.”[33]
  • “I know now that I was wrong to try. Thank God I didn't succeed. People kept saying he would have to die before I could be released, and I did not want my release from prison to be dependent on somebody, on something happening to somebody else, so I wanted him to live to be 100.” (2007)[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "CBS Evening News for Thursday, September 25, 1975". Vanderbilt Television News Archive. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  2. ^ a b "President Ford survives second assassination attempt". This Day In History. The History Channel. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b [2]
  5. ^ a b "Making of a Misfit". Time Magazine. 1975-10-06. 
  6. ^ a b Hernandez, Ernio (2004-04-05). "Assassins Shooting Gallery, Part III: Garrison as Fromme and Baker as Moore". Playbill. Playbill. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  7. ^ a b c "Timeline: Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst". American Experience. Public Broadcasting Service. 2005-02-16. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  8. ^ a b United States Secret Service. "Public Report of the White House Security Review". United States Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 2007-01-03. "Just seventeen days after the Fromme incident, Sara Jane Moore fired a bullet at President Ford in San Francisco. As President Ford exited a downtown hotel, Moore, standing in a crowd of onlookers across the street, pointed her pistol at him. Just before she fired, a civilian grabbed at the gun and deflected the shot. The bullet missed Ford but slightly injured a bystander. Moore was a known radical and a former FBI informant." 
  9. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/324/000023255/
  10. ^ Carney, James (1998-08-03). "How To Make The Secret Service's "Unwanted" List". Time Magazine (Time Warner). Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  11. ^ a b Tucker, Jill (2006-10-29). "Kenneth Iacovoni -- special agent". San Francisco Chronicle. p. B-7. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  12. ^ a b c ""Taking Aim At The President," by Geri Spieler". 
  13. ^ Evans, Harold (1998). "The Imperial Presidency: 1972-1980". The American Century. Random House. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  14. ^ "Remember... Oliver Sipple (1941-1989)". Archived from the original on 2006-11-03. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  15. ^ Seattle Times. "Ford 'won't cower' after shooting." September 23, 1975.
  16. ^ "Obituaries: David Richardson Wendell". The Almanac. Embarcadero Publishing Company. 2003-01-29. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  17. ^ "December 12, 1975 in History". BrainyHistory. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  18. ^ Nevas, Steve (news anchor) (1976). Ten O'Clock News broadcast (Television news). Boston, MA: WGBH. 
  19. ^ "January 15, 1976 in History". BrainyHistory. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  20. ^ McQuiston, John T. (1987-12-24). "'Squeaky' Fromme Sought After an Apparent Escape". New York Times. 
  21. ^ "Ford Assailant Blocks Prison Key Crackdown". San Francisco Chronicle. 2000-08-12. p. A-21. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  22. ^ King, Larry (2004-06-08). "Interview with former President Gerald Ford and former first lady Betty Ford". Larry King Live. CNN. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  23. ^ "Sara Jane Moore." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on January 9, 2010.
  24. ^ "Would-be Ford assassin freed from prison on parole". CNN.com. 2007-12-31. 
  25. ^ "Woman Who Tried to Assassinate President Ford Released From Prison". FOX News. 2007-12-31. 
  26. ^ Taylor, Michael (2008-01-01). "Sara Jane Moore, who tried to kill Ford in '75, freed on parole". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  27. ^ http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/30978026/ns/today-today_people/ msnbc.com
  28. ^ http://www.theweek.com/article/index/97054/Video_Sara_Jane_Moore_on_the_Today_show
  29. ^ Taking Aim at the President, Geri Spieler. 2009, St. Martin's Press (N.Y.), ISBN 0-230-61023-4.
  30. ^ http://www.gerispieler.com/Geris_Book_Taking_Aim.html
  31. ^ Keerdoja, Eileen (1976-11-08). "Squeaky and Sara Jane". Newsweek. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  32. ^ "Putting the Ass Back in Assassin". Suck.Com. 2001-02-12. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  33. ^ Lee, Vic (2007-01-02). "Interview: Woman Who Tried To Assassinate Ford". ABC-7 News. KGO-TV. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  34. ^ "Former President Ford lauded, laid to rest". CNN. 2007-01-04. Archived from the original on 2007-03-20. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 

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