John W. Hinckley Jr., the drifter charged with shooting President Reagan, visited the District of Columbia several times before the March 30 shooting, but there is no evidence at this time that he was stalking Reagan or any other political figure, according to law enforcement sources.
The sources said Hinckley was registered as a guest at the Capital Hilton Hotel Sept. 27 and 28 and at the Quality Inn on Capitol Hill Oct 17-19, Feb. 10 and 11 and Feb. 16 and 17. But there is no evidence to indicate that these visits were tied either to the attack on Reagan or to any plan directed at former president Carter, the sources said.
Instead, the results of a month-long federal investigation forwarded to prosecutors portray Hinckley as a confused 25-year-old who, apparently using money from his wealthy parents, led a nomadic existence, generally wandering aimlessly from coast to coast.
One clear explanation for some of his travels, sources reiterated yesterday, was an apparent fascination for teen-aged actress Jody Foster, whose first name is the same as his mother's nickname and who is said to look like the mother, Joanne Hinckley, did in her youth. Last fall, for example, Hinckley visited Yale University in New Haven, Conn., where Foster had just begun freshman studies.
Investigators still believe that Hinckley allegedly shot the president to make an impression on Foster -- a motive outlined in a letter addressed to Foster, signed with Hinckley's name and found in Hinckley's room at the Park Central Hotel here after the shooting.
Law enforcement officials contend it was this fantasy, whatever its psychic origins, that led to the shooting of Reagan.
Hinckley's actions bore little resemblance, they say, to those of Arthur H. Bremer, the 21-year-old Milwaukee busboy who stalked former president Richard M. Nixon and presidential candidate George C. Wallace, kept a diary of his travels and finally shot and wounded Wallace in a Laurel shopping center in 1972.
"Initially we thought he was another Bremer, but it didn't work out that way," said one law enforcement official familiar with the case. "There doesn't seem to be any information that he was stalking anybody."
These findings are among those contained in a 1,200-page summary of the first month of the Hinckley investigation prepared by the FBI's Washington field office in conjunction with the Secret Service and D.C. police.
It was sent Friday to prosecutors in the U.S. District Court here, where Hinckley is facing charges of attempted assassination of a president and assault on a federal employe -- Timothy J. McCarthy, a Secret Service agent wounded in the attack on Reagan. Two other persons, D.C. police officer Thomas K. Delahanty and White House press secretary James S. Brady, also were wounded. No charges have been filed yet in those cases. s
Federal and local officials have refused to comment publicly on the report. Privately, some say they suspect, to varying degrees, that Hickley might have been stalking president Carter. But there is general agreement that no specific evidence has surfaced yet to support that theory, even though many of Hinckley's travels are otherwise unexplained.
Hinckley, for instance, was in Chicago, Dayton and Nashville last October at the same time Carter was in those cities for campaign appearances. oHowever, there is no journal as there was in the Bremer case and there is no evidence of a plan. Moreover, except for brief talks following his arrest, investigators have not interviewed Hinckley, who has been held in a psychiatric wing of the Federal Correctional Institute in Butner, N.C., since shortly after the shooting.
Law enforcement investigators continue to assert that Hinckley acted alone when he allegedly shot Reagan as the president and his entourage left the Washington Hilton Hotel on a rainy Monday afternoon.
"There are no facts revealed in this case that would point to a conspiracy," an FBI official said yesterday.
Hinckley was an unemployed college dropout who never held a steady job and at times was a study in contrasts, according to public and private records and those who knew him.
His family lived in a fashionable Denver suburb, but Hinckley had no fixed address, instead wandering from one cheap motel to another, sometimes only a short drive from his family home.
Although his father was president of an oil company and supported his son financially, the president's alleged assailant had few material possessions, ate at fast-food stands and seemed to be always on the brink of destitution, according to interviews by reporters and law enforcement sources.
Investigators trying to establish Hinckley's actions and motives have not dismissed the potential effect on him of the movie "Taxi Driver," a 1975 release that featured Jodie Foster and Robert DeNiro, who portrayed a frustrated cabdriver who for a time stalked a presidential candidate.
Hinckley saw that movie, and some written materials relating to it were found in his possession, according to law enforcement sources.
Officials cited "some strong parallels" between parts of the movie and Hinckley's actions, but said that, without interviewing Hinckley, it is difficult to determine the extent to which this movie -- or other possible factors such as his mother's resemblance to Foster -- affected his actions.
As part of examinations being conducted by specialists appointed by the prosecution and the defense, Hinckley at one point was transferred to the Duke University medical center in Durham for neurological tests with more sophisticated medical equipment than at Butner.
Officials expect the mental tests to continue for at least several more weeks with no indictment expected for at least two months. "I expect no imminent action in this case," Charles F. C. Ruff, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said yesterday. A federal grand jury has begun hearing evidence in the case.
A task force of 50 FBI agents, assisted by D.C. police, Secret Service agents and the part-time efforts of 700 agents in nearly every one of the five dozen FBI field offices, is continuing the pretrial investigation.
Prosecutors in U.S. District Court here have said they have never seen such a meticulous effort by the FBI.
"We are investigating for history," said Special Agent Larry Knisely, spokesman for the FBI's Washington field office. "We will interview anyone who could possibly help us understand him [Hinckley] or the indictment."
Theodore M. Gardner, special agent in charge of the Washington field office, says this effort is not only to prepare prosecutors for trial, but also to avoid the kind of questions that have plagued previous assassintation investigations involving high-ranking public figures."
"We are sensitive to the fact that the results of the investigation will receive the closest of scrutiny in the future, as did the investigations of the Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy assassinations," Gardner said. "In this connection, I have emphasized repeatedly to the employes working this investigation that there are no illogical leads. Every aspect will be pursued."
The task force, working out of the 10th floor of the field office headquarters at Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington, has conducted thousands of interviews and brought in computers to catalougue the information, Knisely said.
Some 100 tips pertaining to the investigation have been received at the field office each day. Most of them have proved false.
Many of the tipsters are indeed phoning in information about alleged conspiracies, he said. Iranians and Cubans seem to be particularly popular in the various theories, and there are also alleged plots involving left-wingers, right-wingers and double agents for both groups. Callers from abroad claim they have sighted Hinckley in a number of countries.
Other false leads included those from a building across the street from the Washington Hilton, where suspected bullet holes turned out to be drilled holes for a security system, and the discovery of several shell casings at the Hilton after the crime scene had been swept by agents on hands and knees. That turned out to be an apparent prank.
For a few days, FBI agents, as well as a number of reporters, were trying to locate a woman who was said to have called Hinckley's room at the Park Central Hotel at 18th and G streets NW, where he stayed for one night before allegedly setting out to shoot the president.
That woman, law enforcement officials now say, had been trying to call another room and was mistakenly transferred to Hinckley's room by the hotel operator.