The Day a Bookkeeper Attempted to Kill President Ford (17 Days After Another Attempt by Another Woman)

When Sara Jane Moore raised her .38-caliber handgun to fire off a single bullet at the president, it was September 22, 1975. Prior to that, she’d never done so much as jaywalk.

What’s even crazier about Moore’s action on the evening of the 22nd was that she was the second woman that same month, in California no less, who’d attempted to assassinate Ford.

Whatever Ford thought of his attackers, he had wonder how many more warnings fate would deliver.

Moore was a mother of four, apparently a normal person, at least from the outside. Below the surface, she was anything but normal.

Normal Beginnings

CNN interviewed Sara Jane Moore in 2015. In the interview, she looks and sounds like a youthful grandmother type. If one cuts out the middle 32 years of her life, from conviction to release, it scans as otherwise normal.

Life began for Moore on February 15, 1930, in West Virginia. She grew up in a normal environment, studied nursing after high school, became a recruit for the Women’s Army Corps, and worked as an accountant.

Although she struggled to stay married, divorcing five times, she lived an arguably boring life, at least on paper. In fact, she saw herself as a nobody.

When CNN asked why she decided it had to be her, she had this to say:

“I was a nobody,” said Moore. “It would be better coming from someone like me, and destroying these people [talking about removing Ford from the presidency] who I really thought were leaders, and if they did this it would destroy their leadership.”

As many reporters and people who knew Moore intimately would report, there were two sides to her personality. There was the boring person she hoped others would see, and then there was the unseen side of her.

Move From Normal

Patty Hearst | rollingstone.com

The same year Ford took the Oval Office, Moore moved into the radical left of politics. At the time she was living in San Francisco, the center of all things radical in the U.S. at the time.

She’d already taken work as an FBI informant in 1974, due to her connection to William Randolph Hearst. He was the media mogul who founded Hearst Corporation, one of the most powerful media corporations in the U.S.

Moore was the bookkeeper for a food donation program run by Hearst, “People in Need.” The FBI had hoped Moore could get them close to Hearst’s daughter, Patty, a revolutionary, an acorn who fell far from the family tree.

As it turned out, Moore provided little help to the FBI. Meanwhile, she’d stepped further into the radical political water of the Bay Area. She found herself surrounded by advocates for radical change.

That was when she got the idea to assistant Ford.

“Everybody was talking about it… I don’t about the rest of the country, but in San Fransisco people were saying this all the time,” Moore told CNN in 2015. “Number one, we elect our presidents, we don’t appoint them. And Gerald Ford was appointed… by a crook.”

The End of Normal

Moore’s last opportunity to live a normal life came on the 22nd of September when she took the .38 in her hand. Wearing a pair of baggy beige pants and a green rain jacket, she waited for hours outside the St. Francis Hotel for Ford to appear.

When he did, Sara Jane Moore took aim and missed. The bullet flew over the top of Ford’s head.

A man and former marine standing in the crowd, Oliver Sipple, saw Moore raise the gun, and grabbed her arm. He wrestled her to the ground, stopping her from trying again.

Asked by KGO-TV in 2007 when released from prison if she was remorseful, Moore said, “I am very glad I did not succeed. I know now that I was wrong to try.” Sincere? Who knows. The right thing to say? Yup.

The other woman who’d tried to kill President Ford was Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, one of Charles Manson’s lackeys. She had less noble intentions and failed even harder than Moore. Fromme didn’t even have the gun loaded correctly. At least she was clearly nuts.

Sara Jane Moore, one the other hand, could be someone’s grandmother, right up until the moment she flips. More than one person in contact with Moore over the years has commented on how her personality can flip on a dime, and that’s when one meets the woman who decided to kill the president.

Moore today | cnn.com

Sources: atlasobscura.combiography.comsfgate.com