A Profile in Cowardice
Ted Kennedy, the accident, and the cover-up

Chapter 6 - The Cover-up Begins

"I found it hard to believe the Senator had been in a major automobile accident. His face bore no traces of any marks. He never sat down or appeared in any kind of physical discomfort. If he had been injured, in shock, or confused, nothing of it lingered in our meeting, to my observation."
- Police Chief Dominick Arena -

Timeline Continued
( excerpts from Senatorial Privilege by Leo Damore )

Saturday July 19, 1969

9:50 AM

- When Senator Kennedy and Paul Markham had boarded the ferry en route to the Edgartown police station, Joe Gargan got into the Valiant parked at the Chappaquiddick landing and drove back to the Lawrence cottage. On the way, he encountered LaRosa, Crimmins, the Lyons sisters, and Esther Newberg walking on Chappaquiddick Road, heading for the landing.
- Gargan stopped the car and told them to get in.
- Looking at Gargan's face, Nance Lyons "knew something was wrong." She said, "What's happened?"
- "The Senator has been in an automobile accident," he said, "and we can't find Mary Jo."
- Gargan remained evasive, refusing to answer any more questions because "The Senator was at the police station making his report of what happened in the accident. I didn't want to say anything to these people that would compromise whatever statement he was making. Plus, I had very little knowledge about the accident itself, except for Paul and I doing the diving, and I didn't know how much if any of that the Senator was going to tell the police."

- Back at the cottage, Gargan ordered Crimmins and LaRosa, "Get all the stuff together: every bottle, every potato chip. I want this place cleaned up immediately."
- During the clean-up, Nance Lyons found Mary Jo's handbag under a chair in the living room. "Her pocketbook happened to be next to mine and I took it when I was collecting my own things," she said.

- The owner of the cottage was Sydney Lawrence of Scarsdale, New York. After learning of the accident, Lawrence immediately went to Chappaquiddick and inspected the place on Saturday night. He found it had been swept clean of any evidence a party had been held there. "They were real cute about that," he said later. "I only found 8 empty Coke bottles. Even the trash barrels had been emptied."
- A blanket was rolled up at the foot of each twin bed, each so neatly-made that he wondered if they'd even been slept in.

- Once the scene had been cleaned up, Gargan brought the party guests back to the ferry, and then to Edgartown.

- The group was taken to the Katama Shores Inn, where they joined Charles Tretter, Rosemary Keough, and Susan Tannenbaum who had left Chappaquiddick with Gargan earlier that morning. With the entire group assembled, Gargan told the girls, "I think what you should do is get off the island as soon as possible. Nobody knows at the moment that any of you are here, so go home and just keep quiet. Don't talk to anybody until we see what develops - that's the best advice I can give you right now."
- Gargan then gave Charles Tretter the order to, "Put them in the car...... Get them out of here!"

- Gargan had accomplished his clean-up detail with his customary dispatch and efficiency. He had left no evidence behind that a party had taken place at the cottage on Chappaquiddick. And all the guests who had attended had escaped the island before Edgartown police even knew they were there.

- As Senator Kennedy and Paul Markham worked on the accident report, Chief Arena returned to the accident scene. He met Registry Inspector George Kennedy and his assistant who were waiting for him at the ferry landing, and they accompanied Arena to the bridge.

- When Arena arrived at Dike Bridge with the Registry inspectors, they found that the tow truck had arrived and the automobile had been righted but not removed from Poucha Pond.
- Scuba diver John Farrar had observed large air bubbles rise to the surface when the automobile was turned over. He was continuing to dive, looking for more bodies when Arena arrived and told him, "you can call off your search; I have the driver. There was nobody else in the car."

- When the tide approached dead low, the car was dragged from the pond. "Huck" Look, who had arrived earlier, watched the salvage operation from the bridge. As the rear end license plate emerged, he told Arena, "That's the same car I saw last night."
- "Do you know who was driving that car?" Arena asked.
- Look hadn't the slightest idea. "It appeared to be a man and a woman," he said.
- "Well, it was Senator Ted Kennedy," Arena said.
- One of the few registered Democrats in Edgartown, Look was horrified. "Holy Jesus!" he exclaimed, then in mock recantation, "I didn't see a thing."
- To registry Inspector Kennedy, Look confirmed having seen "a vehicle with similar description to vehicle in the accident whose occupants looked like two persons, 1 male and 1 female, with male operating vehicle."

- When the car was removed from Poucha Pond, Farrar opened the driver's side door and checked the dashboard. The key was in the ignition; the light switch was in the "on" position; the gear wand was in "drive." When the trunk was opened, Farrar observed it to be "remarkably dry."
- The windshield, though shattered, was still held intact by safety film. The upper right edge of the roof had broken the impact of meeting the water, and momentum had carried the car over onto its roof, Farrar said. "For that reason I believe initially a large amount of air was trapped inside." The fact that one window was open and two others broken would not prevent an air bubble from forming.


Car and Diver

Inquest Exhibit #6 -Senator Kennedy's car is dragged by a wrecker out of Poucha Pond. When scuba diver John Farrar opened the trunk of the accident car, he found it to be "remarkably dry".

Inquest Exhibit #25 - Scuba diver John Farrar about to enter the partially removed car on a banking after having removed the body of Mary Jo Kopechne from the back seat.

- After Senator Kennedy's car had been removed from Poucha Pond, Arena left the accident scene in the hands of the Registry inspectors, and returned to the police station. When he arrived, he discovered that a large crowd of reporters had already gathered outside.

- As Arena entered the office, Markham told him the statement was nearly finished.

- Arena took the opportunity to "take a real close look" at Ted Kennedy. "I found it hard to believe the Senator had been in a major automobile accident. His face bore no traces of any marks. He never sat down or appeared in any kind of physical discomfort. If he had been injured, in shock, or confused, nothing of it lingered in our meeting, to my observation."

- When Markham had finished the Senator's statement, he handed it to Arena, who was astounded by what he read. No wonder Ted Kennedy was showing no ill effects from the accident. According to his verbatim report, the accident had occurred more than ten hours ago.

"On July 18, 1969, at approximately 11:15 PM in Chappaquiddick, Martha's Vinyard, Massachusetts, I was driving my car on Main Street on my way to get the ferry back to Edgartown. I was unfamiliar with the road and turned right onto Dike Road, instead of bearing hard left on Main Street. After proceeding for approximately one-half mile on Dike Road I descended a hill and came upon a narrow bridge. The car went off the side of the bridge. There was one passenger with me, one Miss Mary ( Kennedy was not sure of the spelling of the dead girl's last name, and offered a rough phonetic approximation ), a former secretary of my brother Sen. Robert Kennedy. The car turned over and sank into the water and landed with the roof resting on the bottom. I attempted to open the door and the window of the car but have no recolection of how I got out of the car. I came to the surface and then repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car. I was unsuccessful in the attempt. I was exhausted and in a state of shock. I recall walking back to where my friends were eating. There was a car parked in front of the cottage and I climbed into the back seat. I then asked for someone to bring me back to Edgartown. I remember walking around for a period of time and then going back to my hotel room. When I fully realized what had happened this morning, I immediately contacted the police."

- Senator Kennedy claimed in his statement that he was unfamiliar with the road.
- At the inquest, however, Judge Boyle concluded that "Earlier on July 18, he [Kennedy] had been driven over Chappaquiddick Road three times, and over Dike Road and Dike Bridge twice. Kopechne had been driven over Chappaquiddick Road five times and over Dike Road and Dike Bridge twice".

- Markham had written out the description of the accident directly from the Senator's dictation. He corrected errors in grammar, but played no part in the deception the Senator had engaged in by failing to mention the party at Chappaquiddick, or in his claim to have been "in shock" after the accident.
- Senator Kennedy had said nothing at the police station regarding his rate of speed, or the quantity of alcohol he'd consumed at the party.

- Joe Gargan arrived at the police station, where Markham showed him the Senator's completed statement. Gargan "sort of perused it. I didn't read it at that time." He was satisfied that the Senator had admitted being the driver of the accident car. He didn't have to know anything else.

- After seeing the statement, Gargan immediately left the police station to tie up all the loose ends: he checked out of the Shiretown Inn, paid for the charter boats, and returned the rented Valiant to the Hertz agency in Edgartown.

- After having the statement typed out, Arena gave a copy to Ted Kennedy. The Senator read the statement, and then said he wanted his attorney to look it over before it became part of the record. "Could you please hold it until I talk to Burke Marshall?" he asked.
- Markham explained to the chief that Burke Marshall was a "Kennedy family lawyer."

- Arena replied that he still had some questions he wanted to ask, particularly about the long delay in reporting the accident.
- Markham assured him, "The Senator will answer questions after he has consulted his attorney."
- The fact that Kennedy had asked to talk to a lawyer seemed "a reasonable request," Arena later said. "I figured Kennedy would be eager to clear the matter up."
- Arena agreed to hold the statement and forego further questions, a decision he would later come to regret as "something of a low point in my particular case."

- Arena then asked to see Ted Kennedy's driver's license.
- The Senator said he didn't have it with him. "I can't find my wallet," he said.
- Arena asked if the license had been "properly renewed."
- Kennedy said he was "sure" it had been.

- Massachusetts law required every driver to have a license "upon his person" or in some easily accessible place for presentation after an accident. Police could arrest without warrant and keep in custody for 24 hours any person operating a motor vehicle who did not have a license in his possession. The Senator's inability to produce a license was in clear violation of the law.

- Registry Inspector George Kennedy, having just come from the accident scene, arrived at the police station. After formally introducing himself, he read Senator Kennedy his Miranda rights, a recitation usually given prior to an interrogation.
- After the Senator said he understood his rights, Inspector Kennedy asked for his driver's license and automobile registration.
- Senator Kennedy said he thought the registration was in the accident car, and that he didn't have his license with him. "Sometimes I leave it in my car in Washington, because I own two cars," he said. "I will place a call for you immediately and see if I didn't leave it there." Kennedy called his Senate office in Washington and asked his administrative aide, David Burke, to see if the license had been left in the other car.

- Inspector Kennedy read over the Senator's statement and said, "I would like to know about something."
- "I have nothing more to say!" the Senator said brusquely. "I have no comment."
- Markham assured the Inspector, "The Senator will make a further statement after he has contacted his lawyer."
- Senator Kennedy had let him know in no uncertain terms that he had no intention of saying more. Inspector Kennedy concluded his interrogation.

- The Senator was growing anxious to leave the premises, and Markham began calling air charter services seeking to book a flight to Hyannis.
- Once a flight was arranged, the assistant Registry Inspector, Robert Molla, agreed to drive the two men to the airport. Arena led Ted Kennedy and Markham to a utility room at the back of the police station which provided an escape route to the parking lot, and allowed them to evade the throng of reporters gathered at the front of the building. The men dashed from the rear of the police station to where Inspector Molla was waiting in his unmarked car.

- En route to the airport, Senator Kennedy kept muttering, "Oh my God, what has happened? What has happened?"

- Police Chief Arena and Registry Inspector Kennedy were left behind with no source of information except for Senator Kennedy's vague statement of the accident.

- Chief Arena had unknowingly had two witnesses present, Markham and Gargan, who would have been able to corroborate the Senator's accident report. However, by not "involving" them, Ted Kennedy had guaranteed that they wouldn't be questioned. Instead, Arena had been given the impression that they were merely acting as his attorneys while at the police station.
- Kennedy was thereby able to protect himself from revealing that the two lawyers had known about the accident for many hours before he had gone to the police, and that those lawyers had repeatedly urged him to report the accident.

- Markham later recalled that Arena had displayed unusual good will, accommodating to the point of indulgence in his treatment of Senator Kennedy. The police chief appeared to accept the Senator's accident report at face value, giving no indication that he intended to press charges against Kennedy. Instead, he seemed to be handling the accident "as a routine motor vehicle case."


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Ted - The Other Scandals

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