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Mother of Would-Be Reagan Assassin Dies

Jo Ann Hinckley raised funds for mental health research and education
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2021 2:33 PM CDT
John Hinckley's Mother Dies at 95
In this Sept. 2, 2003 photo, Jack and Jo Ann Hinckley, parents of John Hinckley, leave the US Courthouse in Washington after a hearing regarding John Hinckley's visitation privileges.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

(Newser) – Jo Ann Hinckley—mother of John Hinckley Jr., the would-be assassin of President Reagan—has died. The 95-year-old had been her son’s constant and primary companion as he transitioned in 2016 from living at a Washington psychiatric hospital to being allowed to live with her full-time in a gated community in Williamsburg. By that time, his mental illness had been in full and sustained remission for decades, experts said. Barry Levine, John Hinckley’s longtime attorney, said that Jo Ann Hinckley and her husband, John "Jack" Hinckley Sr., had moved to Williamsburg to be closer to their son after a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. Her husband, a retired oil executive, died in 2008. "She provided a caring home, support and most of all—love—to help John heal," Levine said in a statement, per the AP.

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John Hinckley, the youngest of Jo Ann and Jack Hinckley’s three children, was 25 when he shot Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981. The shooting also paralyzed press secretary James Brady and injured two others. At the time, Hinckley was suffering from acute psychosis and was obsessed with actress Jodie Foster. Jurors said he needed treatment, not a lifetime in confinement. In the years following the shooting, his parents began to raise money for mental health research and education and founded the American Mental Health Fund in 1984. Levine said Tuesday that Hinckley, 66, had already moved out of his mother’s home before her death. Hinckley is in the process of asking a federal judge in Washington to grant him release from various conditions that he’s been living under. His next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27.

(Read more John Hinckley stories.)

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