DATELINE: Racist Pin Up Boy
History Channel gave its prestigious series a shot at the Booth mystery theory about his escape after killing Lincoln. It seems to be a culmination of finally legitimizing the idea that John Wilkes Booth managed to live out his life for four decades as Lincoln’s assassination.
In History’s Greatest Mysteries, a new Cadillac series, Laurence Fishburne narrates an updated look at the Booth murder/death with more cooperation from descendants of the assassin. In fact, they are prepared to use DNA to make their case that he lived for decades—and even fathered some children.
You will see again some of the familiar “expert” faces of the past few decades, though they are now aging and still dealing with the mystery. And here, Booth is described as charismatic and able to lead and to orchestrate a great conspiracy down to minute details. Yet, he is also shown as having drinks to fortify his resolve before shooting Lincoln.
In this version of events, the descendants contend Booth, married to a woman named Martha Izola, left the country with her and went to India for a time.
The great grandson of Harry is willing to be tested. There are other marriages, one discounted by handwriting and signature comparison.
The idea of exhuming Booth’s body and testing its DNA is impossible when he was buried in an unmarked grave with many other family members, under orders of Edwin Booth.
This show takes the same photos of John St. Helen and David E. George to a University of Virginia facial recognition expert who denies they can even be matched. So, they are not truly run through his program. And a handwriting expert dismisses both St. John and George as having handwriting that was not as artistic and flowery as the real Booth!
The issue of whether he shaved off his mustache is also left in obfuscation: sometimes he has one, and other times he does not.
The show does suggest that Booth, even today, has a bevy of fans—mostly white supremacists who want to hear he got away with his crime against Lincoln and the federal government.
The mystery of John Wilkes Booth is far from solved.