9 'Unsolved' Mysteries That Have Been Solved

Was 'Umbrella Man' Involved in the JFK Assassination?
'Umbrella man' is shown allegedly giving the signal for President John F. Kennedy's assassination. He later came forward to say he was only heckling the president. Pascal Le Segretain/Sygma/Corbis

One of the weirdest enigmas of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas was the presence of "umbrella man." This blurry figure is seen in photographs raising a black umbrella along the presidential route, even though the sky was clear. Some saw him as proof of a conspiracy -- an advance man who was signaling the sniper. Others suspected that he might actually be an assassin himself, firing a poison dart gun concealed in his parasol [source: Gentry].

But when the U.S. House of Representatives reopened the JFK investigation in the late 1970s, a 53-year-old Dallas warehouse manager named Louie Steven Witt came forward and testified that he was "umbrella man." Granted, his explanation was a bit bizarre: Witt disliked JFK's father, former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom Joseph P. Kennedy, whom he faulted for supporting British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies toward Hitler. Chamberlain's trademark was his ever-present umbrella, and Witt chose that day to brandish a big, conspicuous one in an effort to needle the president. He brought along a visual aid to the hearing -- a battered black umbrella that he claimed was the one he'd used that day. A committee staffer popped it open, to reveal that it didn't contain a weapon [source: Gentry].

Witt added, "If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for people doing the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place, I would be No. 1" [source: Gentry].