And now, 50 years later, the Nov. 22, 1963, Texas tragedy remains one of the greatest mysteries of all time as an army of investigators still hunt for the truth.
Here are the undisputed facts: the handsome 46-year-old commander in chief and his beautiful wife Jackie, 34, traveled to the Lone Star State to mend a rift in the Democratic Party and prepare for the 1964 presidential election.
On the morning of the killing, the couple arrived at Dallas' Love Field, where they were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. Jackie made a splash in a double-breasted Chanel wool suit with matching pillbox hat. She then got into an open convertible with her husband for a 10-mile motorcade through Dallas. Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife Nellie shared the vehicle.
The procession was supposed to wind through Dallas' streets and end at the TradeMart, where JFK would address an invitation-only luncheon of supporters. But he never made it.
As the motorcade turned into Dealey Plaza, then made a slow, sharp left onto Elm Street under the looming Texas School Book Depository, a shot rang out, and a whiff of dust and smoke rose from the pavement. The convertible continued on, another shot shattered the bright noon air. This time the president was hit.
Within seconds, JFK took another bullet and his head seemed to almost explode on impact. Secret Service agent Clint Hill jumped on the car's back bumper as Jackie lunged onto the trunk to retrieve pieces of her husband's skull.
The limo raced to Parkland Memorial Hospital where America's leader was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old former Marine and one-time defector to the Soviet Union, was accused of the murder. Lawmen charged Oswald also killed Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit as he was fleeing from a sixth-floor sniper's nest in the book depository building. The accused assassin was arrested in a movie theater.
- Are the Horrific Murders of an Elderly Texas Couple Whose Heads Were Found in a Refrigerator Linked to JFK's Assassination?
- Secret FBI Documents and Photos: Russian Spies, UFOs, Michael Jackson, 9/11 and Other Secret Case Evidence Exposed
- The FBI's Hollywood Files: How Lucille Ball, Muhammad Ali, Jonny Carson and More Ended Up in Feds' Crosshairs
However, Oswald insisted he didn't kill Kennedy or Tippit. At a crowded news conference in the Dallas Police Station, he claimed he was just "a patsy" who'd been framed.
But he never got his day in court. On Nov. 24, as he was being walked through the police station's basement to an armored truck, Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby pushed through a crowd of newsmen and cops, shoved a pistol in Oswald's stomach and fired one shot. Ruby claimed he killed Oswald to spare Jackie Kennedy the ordeal of a trial.
But many investigators don't believe Ruby to this day. He died of a pulmonary embolism on Jan. 3, 1967, while appealing his death sentence for murdering Oswald. And the questions still linger about his involvement and Oswald's role in the assassination.
Less than a year after JFK's death, the Warren Commission appointed by Kennedy's successor President Lyndon B. Johnson concluded Oswald was the lone assassin.
Never miss a story — sign up for the Front Page Detectives newsletter. Be on the scene the moment news breaks.
BEHIND THE BLOODBATH
However, that report has now been debunked and branded a white wash. In 1976, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded the Kennedy killing was carried out by a "conspiracy." However, no one was named.
Some claim the Mob, the CIA, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or even power-hungry Lyndon B. Johnson were behind the bloodbath.
The debate has raged for almost 50 years and will certainly continue as shocking new evidence keeps being uncovered even to this day. The questions seem as eternal as the flame that marks JFK's grave in Arlington National Cemetery.
Become a Front Page Detective
Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.