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Chappaquiddick: What Do You Know, Mary Jo?

Posted on August 1, 2018 at 11:33 AM Comments comments (3703)
Please Note: Due to format changes,
English/Spanish text audio is not available
for this addition of The Booo! Blog.

Fe+H²O = High Strangeness

Iron and water. 

Possibly it's my longevity in this field. Perhaps it's the copious notes I took in chemistry class. Or, more likely, it's just that I'm damn good at what I do. Okay, I'll go with all three! But intentionally snarky, not-so-witty egotistical musings aside, while others have missed the repeating pattern entirely, I have always found the two ingredients an elemental recipe for all things paranormal. The roster of haunted military vessels is legion and well-documented. Bridges, too, have our two ingredients and several are haunted, just not as well-known or documented. The December 15, 1967 Silver Bridge collapse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia echoes to this day. 46 people lost their lives that day when their cars plunged into the frigid Ohio River. The cause was determined to be a perfect storm of structural defects, design load excess and poor maintenance, but many believe the disaster was the wretched culmination of the infamous Mothman visitation of that and the previous year in and around Point Pleasant. 

AAD: Attract. Amplify. Display. 

Iron and water.

Water attracts and amplifies paranormal energy, giving it the 'juice' to display in various forms. Water, especially water in motion, produces negative ions. Does relaxing by a lake or ocean make lift your spirits? Do you enjoy the feel and smell of the air just before a thunderstorm? Thank negative ions: invisible, electrically-charged particles in the atmosphere. On the spooky side, these charged particles are believed to fuel paranormal activity. In fact, I sometimes use a negative ion generator (yes, there are such things) during an investigation to give otherworldly entities a temporary boost. Think of it as paranormal Red Bull.

Iron records and displays paranormal energy, much like the ferric oxide (one of the three main oxides of iron) coating on analog magnetic tape. If you're too young to remember life before digital, that's what your parents and grandparents used back in the day to capture sound and video, and it still has some advantages over digital in paranormal investigation.

And that leads us to the story of Ted and Mary Jo...

The Chappaquiddick Incident: Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne

Most are at least somewhat familiar with the tale, even if they were born years later. Chappaquiddick. The name of the small island off the coast of Nantucket will forever be synonymous with the unfortunate event that happened there in the early morning hours of July 19, 1969.


Six young, single women. Six older, married men in positions of power. No wives. What could go wrong? Leaving a party at a rented beach cottage that would put Mad Men to shame, U.S. Senator for Massachusetts Edward "Ted" Kennedy and his young passenger, 28-year old Mary Jo Kopechne, plunged off the narrow Dike Bridge and into Poucha Pond. Kennedy's Oldsmobile Delmont 88 flipped and sank upside down in the shallow body of water, trapping Kopechne inside. Ted escaped and swam to safety, leaving Mary Jo behind. Somehow making it back to the party, which was still in full swing including an outdoor conga line (yes, really), Ted quietly rounded-up two other party animals and off they went to attempt a drunken rescue of poor Mary Jo. No luck. The men convinced Ted to report the incident to authorities, which he did ten (10!) hours later. By then, of course, Mary Jo had bought the ranch and was found still perched in the submerged Olds. On a positive note, we can safely assume that her coiffure was still utter perfection, if the ozone layer was not, thanks to the can of 1960s-era aerosol Aqua Net hair spray she lacquered on in preparation for that evening's boozy soirée.

Life (and Death) Aren't Always Fair

Mary Jo Kopechne was buried in Larksville, Pennsylvania, near her family home. Ted had the bravado and bad taste to show up at her funeral, sporting a neck brace and playing the sympathy card, his pregnant wife, Joan, by his side. To dispel any thought that questionable taste wasn't a family affair, Joan wore a white dress, but did wear a black headscarf. How thoughtful. Throughout the event, she donned a facial expression that screamed she secretly wished Ted had waited it out in the Olds with Mary Jo. Soon after this circus she suffered her third miscarriage, which she attributed to the stress.

Mary Jo's parents were given a consolation prize of approximately $150,000 by Kennedy and his auto insurance company and declined an autopsy on their daughter, later even thwarting an attempt to have Mary Jo's body exhumed. No legal suit was filed by her family. Ted got off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist and a 6-month driver's license suspension. Such was the power and political connections of the Kennedy clan. Edward "Ted" Kennedy remained a U.S. Senator for the next 40-years, until his death in 2009.

Questions, Questions, Questions...

There are only two people who know for certain what happened on and, perhaps even more creepy, below the narrow bridge that night on Chappaquiddick Island. Kennedy had his story and stuck to it for decades until glioblastoma mutiforme, a particularly nasty variety of brain cancer, sent him on his way. Kopechne? She's never had a chance to tell hers. With the tide of new interest in the incident generated by John Curran's film, Chappaquiddick, I believe it's time to give Mary Jo that opportunity.

There were several inconsistencies in Kennedy's version of events, made all the more murky by Kopechne's family refusal of an autopsy. There was blood that may or may not have been consistent with drowning. Some of Kopechne's injuries lead investigators to believe that she was behind the wheel of Ted's Detroit-made land yacht at the time of the incident, not in the front passenger seat as he claimed. And now that creepy part: Mary Jo was found in the back of the vehicle, grasping the seat, with her head positioned as if she was desperately gasping in the last pocket of air. Say what? Yes, many experts believe that Kopechne was alive for hours in her watery tomb as it slowly filled, ultimately succumbing to asphyxiation, not drowning as listed in the official cause of death, as carbon dioxide from her respiration replaced the remaining islands of oxygen. If so, what was going through her mind? Was the free-flowing alcohol from that night's party clouding her judgement? Was she waiting, convinced Kennedy would soon come to her rescue? 

There is only one way to find out.

Please Step Up to the Microphone, Ms. Kopechne

For reasons that I go into detail about on the Ghosts and Hauntings page of my website, I believe there may be away to find the answers to our questions.

When someone passes, especially suddenly or under tragic circumstances, they have a tendency to remain, or at least frequent, the location of their death. Their body is only a shell, a vessel, and can be buried hundreds or even thousands of miles away. In the case of cremation, their actual physical body may not exist at all, just ashes in an urn on a mantle. Or, in the case of my Aunt Mary, in a box in the trunk of her daughter's Toyota Corolla, but that's another story... Regardless, the real essence of the deceased individual, their spirit, often lingers, refusing to move on. This refusal and lingering is not time dependent, but adjustment dependent.

Linear time is a human concept and perception: 24/7/365, the comes up, the sun goes down. However, what we perceive as passing time is meaningless and non-existent on the "other side". For that reason, it matters not if the tragic cause of their passing happened seven minutes ago or seventy years ago. Unless the spirit can be at peace with their human death, they will refuse to move on, instead choosing to remain closer to our plane of existence. They have unfinished business. They have a story to tell, and sometimes all it takes to achieve that peace is for someone to listen.

John Curran, Director of the recent movie Chappaquiddick, reports that he was brushed by the Kennedy family wrath. No, they were not happy campers. I've felt their displeasure, and know from personal experience that they would rather keep the story 'under the bridge', as buried as Mary Jo herself. Still, their tentacles are not nearly as long as they once were, and certainly nowhere near the length they were in 1969. Their influence has waned and, with every Kennedy passing, it fades.

While Chappaquiddick's Dike Bridge and Poucha Pond, ground zero in our sordid tale, have become somewhat of a curiosity over the subsequent decades, no formal, in-depth, equipment-intensive paranormal investigation has ever been attempted. It's time to change that. And it's time to allow Mary Jo Kopechne to tell her story.

Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.