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John Hinckley Jr, who shot President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, in the hopes of wooing then 19-year-old actress Jodie Foster, was set to be freed after decades of incarceration from a mental institution on Wednesday to live with his mother.
His release spotlights the infamous letters and subsequent Foster press conference addressing them.
Hinckley, who shot Reagan and multiple others when he emptied his revolver outside a Washington, D.C., hotel in 1981, had written a letter to Foster the day of the shooting, telling her his actions were for her love.
“By sacrificing my freedom and possibly my life, I hope to change your mind about me,” he wrote, according to reports at the time. “This letter is being written an hour before I leave for the Hilton hotel.”
Hinckley continued: “Jodie, I’m asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance with this historical deed to gain your respect and love.”
Although he was set to be freed Wednesday, there are numerous restrictions to Hinckley’s freedom, including having no contact with Foster. The Oscar-winning actress, who starred in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), the film which inspired Hinckley to attempt the assassination, had no comment on his release.
Foster did give a press conference in 1981, shortly after the shooting, to discuss Hinckley’s lengthy obsession with her. She was a student at Yale University then. At the time, it was discovered that Hinckley had written her numerous letters before the shooting.
“I assume the letters were love type letters,” Foster said then. Asked when she made the connection between her fanatic and the would-be assassin, Foster said, “How many Hinckleys do you know?”
The young actress said she felt “very shocked, very frightened” when she heard the news about the shooting.
Watch Foster’s full 1981 presser below.
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