Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sara Jane Moore

Sara Jane Moore (born Sara Jane Kahn in 1930), the second woman to attempt to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford (just 17 days after Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme in September of 1975), graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in Charleston, West Virginia in 1947. She was active in the Spanish Club and Thespians, the school's drama club. Sara acted in several plays including Why the Chimes Rang and The Late Christopher Bean (as Abby, see photo below at right). She also played the violin, studied ballet and was an expert seamstress.

In the excellent book Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford by Geri Spieler, the autor writes that "Neighbors...and her classmates...remember Sara Jane as 'aloof' but 'intense,' 'unfriendly,' 'but looking for the limelight'--and, always, 'a little odd.'"

On September 22, 1975 Moore, who looked more like a middle-aged housewife than a presidential assassin, shot at and missed President Ford's head by six inches. She fired from a crowd of people gathered across the street from the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco--about 40 feet from Ford. When Moore missed the president with her first shot, she raised her arm to shoot again, but Oliver Sipple (1941-1989), a decorated Vietnam veteran, lunged at her just as she was pulling the trigger of her .38 caliber pistol. The Marine had knocked her shot off course, almost certainly saving Ford's life. The bullet wounded a cab driver named John Ludwig who survived.

Moore pleaded guilty to attempted assassination and was sentenced, in 1976, to life in prison. In 1979 she briefly escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia with another inmate named Marlene Martino. The pair was re-captured approximately four hours later, just 20 miles away from the prison. In a 2009 Today Show interview, Moore told Matt Lauer: "If I knew that I was going to be captured several hours later, I would have stopped at the local bar to get a drink or at a burger place just to get a drink and a burger." In 1987 Squeaky Fromme would escape, briefly, from the same prison.

Amost exactly a year after the death of Gerald Ford, Sara Jane Moore was released on parole from the Federal Correction Institution in Dublin, California. She had served 32 years.

Sara Jane Moore, 1975

1 comment:

  1. The brilliant Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musical ASSASSINS has an imaginary scene between Moore and Squeaky Fromme. Moore recalls a boy in her high school (in West Vrirginia in the 1940s-era) named Charles Manson. Dunno if her Charles was the same as Squeaky's.