One of the great mysteries of the 20th Century will be the topic of an upcoming TV miniseries or movie — and a Southampton man was a central figure in the case.
The producing team of John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle are developing a project about investigative reporter Dorothy Kilgallen, one of the most mercurial figures of her time. The duo recently optioned Mark Shaw’s true crime novel The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death about “What’s My Line” TV star and media icon Kilgallen for the endeavor.
Kilgallen snagged the only known interview of Jack Ruby after he shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin who killed President John F. Kennedy. She was found dead in her swanky Manhattan apartment a year later. Though the death was originally reported as an overdose, doubts quickly surfaced — friends noted Kilgallen was about to break a major story about the JFK assassination.
Medical examiners from Brooklyn — not Manhattan — were inexplicably called to the scene. They examined her body, found in her bed with pajamas on, and concluded she had mixed drugs and alcohol and overdosed.
Shaw’s multi-year examination unearthed a key participant in the case, a man who first voiced doubt about the ME’s findings, John Broich of Southampton.
Chris Broich, a former Southampton Village Sergeant who runs his own security business, Fortress Security, said his father John was a chemist for the Manhattan medical examiner at the time Kilgallen was found dead.
“They asked my father do some tests a year or two later . . . he found a second barbiturate, Nembutal, that hadn’t been prescribed to [Kilgallen],” Chris Broich said. When taken with her prescription pills and alcohol, the results could have proved fatal and likely killed her, his father determined. He suspected foul play and said so.
The Dowdle brothers created and executive produced Paramount Network’s “Waco,” starring Taylor Kitsch as David Koresh, which wrapped its limited series engagement last month.
The producers will draw from the Shaw book as well as the author’s in-progress follow-up, Denial of Justice: Dorothy Kilgallen, Abuse of Power and the Most Compelling JFK Assassination Investigation in History for their project.
“Dorothy Kilgallen remains one of the most influential personalities of her era and decades ahead of her time,” the Dowdle brothers said in a joint press release. “Her insatiable drive to uncover the truth was both fascinating and dangerous. She defended those she felt were victims of injustice. In the process she took on some of the most powerful men in the world, knowing full well her life was in danger.”
Shaw said, “The Dowdle brothers’ passion for Dorothy’s story is quite exciting. She is one of the most remarkable journalists and investigative reporters in history. Through this upcoming project, I hope Kilgallen will finally be given the respect she deserves.”
Shaw is the author of more than 20 books including, The Poison Patriarch, about Joe Kennedy’s alleged complicity in JFK’s assassination.
The Independent did a two-part series in 2016 (November 9 and 16 issues) about Kilgallen, who was about to release a book that she claimed would identify JFK’s real killer or killers.
John Broich, a Southampton native, felt strongly about the matter. It bothered him enough to confront his superior when he realized the Manhattan ME’s office had overlooked important details, but he was told to, “keep it under your hat.”
Broich, who is now deceased, was spooked enough to quit his job and move to Long Island. He left videotape about the matter, outlining his concerns.
“There was no evidence that Kilgallen was a drug abuser,” Shaw said Saturday. “Despite the odd death scene and heavy doses, there was no investigation.”
Former ME toxicologist Dr. Stephen Goldner told Shaw the mafia controlled the Brooklyn ME’s office.
Weeks before her death, Shaw learned, Kilgallen bought a gun for self-protection and planned a second trip to New Orleans to investigate mafia don Carlos Marcello.
“If the wrong people knew what I know about the JFK assassination, it would cost me my life,” she confided to hairdresser Charles Simpson, one of several witnesses who gave videotaped interviews Shaw unearthed.