Timeline: The Troubled Life of John Hinckley, Jr.

A look at the life of the man who shot Reagan

By: Harry Jaffe

Illustration by Jack Unruh

1955: John Hinckley Jr. is born in Ardmore, Oklahoma. His family moves to Dallas and then Denver, where his father becomes a successful energy executive.

1976: Hinckley drops out of Texas Tech and begins to wander, first to Los Angeles, where he tries to make it in the record business.

1976: After seeing Taxi Driver 15 times, Hinckley becomes obsessed with Jodie Foster, who plays a young prostitute.

1981: Hinckley pens a final love note to Foster and heads to the Washington Hilton, where he shoots President Ronald Reagan and three others on March 30.

1982: A jury finds Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21. He’s confined to DC’s St. Elizabeths Hospital and attempts suicide a year later.

1987: Hinckley requests a visit with his family. Investigators find 57 photos of Foster in his room. The government locks Hinckley down for a decade.

1999: A DC appeals court rules that Hinckley can visit DC with hospital staff. He has more than 200 recreational trips in the nation’s capital over the next few years.

2003: Judge Paul Friedman takes over Hinckley’s case. Doctors say Hinckley’s delusions are “in remission.” Friedman allows a series of visits to Hinckley’s parents’ home near Williamsburg.

2009: After hearings in 2005 and 2008, Friedman expands Hinckley’s visits to Williamsburg. By 2009, Hinckley is spending one-third of the year there.

2011: At a hearing scheduled for November 28, Hinckley will request complete unsupervised release. The government will likely oppose.

This timeline appears in the October 2011 issue of The Washingtonian as part of the story Free John Hinckley.