On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley's attempt to kill a president made him one of the more notorious criminals of the 1980s, but there are parts of his life that many people still don't know about. Here are five facts you might not have known about John Hinckley Jr.
Hinckley May Have Been Planning to Harm President Jimmy Carter. Hinckley had been arrested for trying to bring guns onto a plane in 1980, but in 1981, after Reagan had been shot, investigators began to notice that Hinckley's travel patterns at the time of his arrest matched those of then-President Carter. Had this been known beforehand, the police might have been able to lock up Hinckley, preventing him from shooting Reagan. However, because no one noticed the pattern at the time, all police did was take away the guns, leaving Hinckley free to visit another gun shop in Texas, where he got the firearm that he used to shoot Reagan.
Hinckley Harassed Jodie Foster for Months Before the Shooting. It's no secret that Hinckley was obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, even going so far as to enroll in a writing course at Yale, where Foster was a student. However, it wasn't just an obsession—it was harassment. Hinckley repeatedly badgered the actress via mail and phone for some sort of attention, which actually isn't that surprising. Not only was Hinckley obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver, which was the film in which he first saw Foster, but there are often connections between shooters and abuse of women. While Hinckley never physically touched Foster, harassment is a form of abuse.
Hinckley May Have Been Trying to Imitate Travis Bickle. Travis Bickle is the name of the character played by Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Not only was Hinckley obsessed with the film and Foster, but he may have actually been trying to imitate Bickle, who plans to assassinate a politician in the film. In other words, the attempt on Reagan's life was not just a stunt to get Foster's attention, but a specific action that drew Hinckley further into the world of the film.
Hinckley's Family Had A Close Relationship With George H. W. Bush There are some remarkable connections between the family of John Hinckley Jr. and the family of George H.W. Bush, the Vice-President of the United States at the time of the assassination attempt. Hinckley's father, John Hinckley Sr., was the CEO of Vanderbilt Energy, a Texas-based oil and gas company. He was an enthusiastic supporter and contributor to the Bush 1980 Presidential campaign and was a personal friend of the Vice President. Even more bizarrely, Neil Bush, the son of the Vice-President, was scheduled to have dinner with John Hinckley's brother, Scott, at the younger Bush's home on the day after the shooting. The dinner was subsequently canceled. The FBI never investigated the Bush-Hinckley family tie.
Hinckley Currently Lives a Quiet Life—but Not by Choice. Hinckley was finally released in 2016 with severe restrictions, including no social media accounts, limited internet access, and other restraints. The restrictions were designed to keep him out of the spotlight and prevent him from contacting Foster or anyone else associated with the assassination. He tried to become involved in the town, looking for volunteer work and retail jobs, but no one wanted anything to do with him, save a Unitarian church that has him sell books for them on Amazon.