BORN: 6/15/55 DIED: 4/25/84
David was a happy-go-lucky adolescent until the night of June 5,1968 when he saw the assassination of his father while watching the primary coverage on a hotel room television set. He was alone and supposed to be asleep, but the excitement of the day had kept him awake. In the aftermath of the tragedy, it was some time before someone came to check on him. It was presidential biographer Theodore White, who found the boy "devastated at the sight he had just seen." Without stopping to rationalize why, White ordered a soothing hot chocolate from room service and cradled and comforted the shaken youngster.
Just the day before, RFK and children were playing on the beach when suddenly David plunged into the gray sea and was caught in the undertow. Robert dived in and hauled David to dry land; the boy went unharmed, while Robert suffered only a bruised forehead.
RFK had a real affection for David also being the 3rd boy in such a large family...he seemed to empathize with him a great deal. David was more sensitive than the other children and would cry easily. RFK would always say, "Kennedy's don't cry", but in the same breath he'd scoop him up and hold him, comforting him. David was of all the children the one who always wanted to go with his father or to visit his father, he was emotionally extremely attached to RFK.
David wrote a note to his Mom in the days after his father was killed that said he would have rathered have such a great Dad for only 10 years than and other Dad for a million years.
The story behind David's death as I know it
Rose had a stroke and the family flew out to one of the family's homes in Palm Springs to spend what they thought would be Rose's last Easter with her. David had been under going treatment at St Mary's Rehabilitation Center in St Paul, Minnesota where he had enrolled as David Kilroy. He flew out to Florida, but couldn't stay at the family's Palm Beach home, because there was no room. He booked into the nearby Brazilian Court Hotel, in room 107. It wasn't long before David started making drug connections. Notably with hotel employees (bellhops) David Dorr - who interestingly enough had previously done some work for the Kennedys back in Hyannis and also for Ethel in McLean - and Peter Merchant. In fact, David wrote Merchant a $120 check on April 23, 2 days before his death. [The crime laboratory later confirmed that it was David's signature on the check]
That Monday afternoon, David and Doug (who I think stayed at the hotel for a while too) went out to the house to see Rose and were so shocked by the state she was in that David ran out in tears.
He spend the Monday evening before his death having dinner at the Rain Dancer Restaurant in West Palm Beach with a 41 year old German woman, Marion Niemann. She later recounted that he had drank up to 7 Vodkas, but ate nothing. Back at the hotel, Niemann listened as David talked about the night his father had died and the pain he had felt about it ever since.
The following afternoon he cashed a $100 check at the hotel and then took a cab out to the family estate. When he arrived there, he looked so bad - dirty, in old clothes and slurring his words - that the security guard wouldn't allow him in (probably thought he was a tramp). I don't know much about this, but Ethel complained later that day to her attorney (of all people) that David had been very abusive with family members. Which members I don't know.
According to witnesses, David had drank up to 10 Vodkas the night before his death. He had also used Cocaine, Demoril and Mellari( this tranquilizer had been prescribed for him). The medical examiner's report confirmed that it was the Demoril used with the Cocaine that killed him. Here's an interesting bit: it's believed that David had stolen the Demoril from Rose's bedroom (it was a drug the doctors had prescibed for her heart condition) or that it was stolen for him by one of his cousins or siblings. Rose's nurse reported that a large vial of Demoril had disappeared from her table.
David partied until the early hours of the morning and then retired to his room. At 10:30 a.m., Caroline Kennedy and cousin Sydney Lawford arrived at the hotel looking for David. They used the phone at the front desk to call his room. There was no answer. Later, hotel employee Douglas Maschiano (bell captain), testified that he had seen Caroline walk to David's room and knock on the door. [On October 17, Caroline released a statement through Ted's office in which she denied ever going anywhere near the room.]
Next, the hotel receptionist received a call from a woman identifying herself as Mrs Kennedy from Boston asking that they check on David. Thing is, there was no Mrs Kennedy in Boston at that time. To this day, no one knows who this woman was although some have suggested that it was Ethel. From there, Douglas Maschiano and Betty Barnett (secretary) went up to the room to see if everything was alright. There's was a `Do Not Disturb' sign on the doorknob. When they entered the room they found that the curtains were still drawn and that the twin beds had not been slept in. There were dollar bills on the bed and floor and the phone was off the hook. Clothes was scattered all over the place. Between the two beds, wearing a shirt, pants, shoes and socks, was the body of David laying face down. It was 11:32 a.m. when they found the body.
Shortly after this, Caroline and Sydney arrived at the hotel. A police officer informed them that David was dead. The 2 of them started calling family members. It was Jean Smith, Caroline and Sydney who went to the Palm Beach County medical examiner's office to identify the body (Ted had requested that David's body be taken there immediately after hearing the news of his death).
As soon as the body was released, Caroline, Sydney and Joe, accompanied it back to Hickory Hill where a funeral service was held before flying to MA (Brookline) for the burial.
Then the investigation began. At first it was believed that no drugs were found and that no one had visited the room that morning. But soon after, the police reported that they had found 1.3 grams of Cocaine hidden in David's wallet in a drawer. And here's the juice part: investigators found `significant traces' of Cocaine and Demoril in the toilet bowl. Now, would David, the big drug addict have flushed it down the loo?? No way! This, of course, added to the suspicion that someone had been in the room and cleaned up. Whoever it was, missed the drugs in David's wallet. Also, interestingly enough-- no syringe was found.
Further more, David had injected the drugs into his groin; he was found with one sock inside out. This led investigators to believe that someone had found David in the nude, then proceeded to dress the body and flush all the drugs. This makes sense to me. Think about it: this guy must have been very drunk after 10 Vodkas, then in his room he injects himself in the groin. Now would he really have bothered to put his clothes back on again in the state he must have been in?
Defense attorney's demanded that the fingerprints lifted from David's room be compared with that of Caroline, Sydney and Doug's as well as other Kennedys. The prosecution (who had become very buddy-buddy with the Kennedys) refused to allow this. Two newspapers filed a law suit against the Palm Beach County state attorney to have the fingerprint evidence released and won. The police chief said that the fingerprints did not belong to Caroline or Syndey, BUT that not all the fingerprints had been identified. The 2 cousins probably never even had their prints taken! The chief refused to say whose fingerprints had been found. Interesting. Btw, this evidence wasn't released until November 14, six months after David's death.
None of the Kennedys were ever seriously interviewed. Over 1000 pages were not released -and to my knowledge, never have been. This included the toxologist's report. The case ended with the arrest - for selling drugs to David - of the two bellhops, Dorr and Merchant. They pleaded nolo contendere and were each ordered to pay a $200 fine and put on probation for 18 months.
Btw, the family had 7 attorneys represent them during the investigation and discovery trail.
"David finally found the peace in death that he could not find in life."
(I believe this was said by Bobby Jr. in his eulogy)