Home US Inside story of infamous fight between JFK Jr and Carolyn Bessette in New York park: Photographer who captured violent 1999 argument reveals her theory of what started it

Inside story of infamous fight between JFK Jr and Carolyn Bessette in New York park: Photographer who captured violent 1999 argument reveals her theory of what started it

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The couple got into a fight in a New York park on February 25, 1996, a few months before their wedding.

As the 25th anniversary of the deaths of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette approaches next month, DailyMail.com columnist Maureen Callahan’s new book has shed new light on their troubled relationship.

In ‘Don’t ask: The Kennedys and the women they destroyed’Callahan tells how, on the day the couple died, July 16, 1999, their marriage was effectively over.

“John had moved out of his marital apartment,” Callahan writes. “(But) the last thing he wanted was for the press to speculate about his marriage.”

And that’s why JFK Jr. insisted on taking Carolyn and her sister Lauren to a family wedding. Off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard he crashed his small private plane, killing them all.

In truth, the press had long known that their relationship was not a happy one, with no evidence more damning than their infamous fight in a New York park on February 25, 1996, just months before their wedding.

The couple got into a fight in a New York park on February 25, 1996, a few months before their wedding.

The morning of the fight, photographer Angie Coqueran was very alert.

The morning of the fight, photographer Angie Coqueran was very alert.

Photographer Angie Coqueran captured the psychic altercation and sold the photographs to the National Enquirer.

The images shocked the world: JFK Jr. appeared to hit Carolyn, remove her engagement ring from her finger, and Carolyn crying. In the attached video you can hear muffled screams.

Now, almost three decades later, Coqueran has exclusively given DailyMail.com a visceral, blow-by-blow account of the plot.

“The Kennedys were my specialty,” says Coqueran, “I had just bought a new Chevy Blazer and I loved driving around Tribeca (in Lower Manhattan), where JFK Jr. and Carolyn shared a loft apartment.

“They liked to eat at Bubby’s (on Hudson Street), and I lived just a bike ride away, so I saw them often and took pictures.”

But that fateful February morning, Coquerán was especially alert. JFK Jr.’s beloved mother, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, had died in May 1994 and now Sotheby’s was selling her possessions at auction.

The morning of the fight, Coqueran had seen the auction listing published in the New York Times.

‘I thought (JFK Jr.) was meant to be in a very emotional state. “He was very close to his mother,” he recalls. “So when I saw him and Carolyn walking and noticed a copy of the Times under his arm, I knew what was inside.”

The couple walked with their dog from Tribeca to Battery Park.

The couple walked with their dog from Tribeca to Battery Park in lower Manhattan.

The couple walked with their dog from Tribeca to Battery Park in lower Manhattan.

'John got up and walked away from her to walk the dog. “Then I heard screams,” says Coqueran.

‘John got up and walked away from her to walk the dog. “Then I heard screams,” says Coqueran.

‘People always say the fight was in Washington Square Park, but that wasn’t the case. The park they always went to was the Battery, right by the water. The National Enquirer deliberately hid that fact because not many people knew where to find them to take pictures.

Coqueran stood in a public bathroom in the park, looking out a window and pointing his lens at the couple as they sat on a bench reading the newspaper together.

Then it got hot. “John got up and walked away from her to walk the dog, disappearing from my sight for a few seconds,” he says. “But then I heard screams, from both of them, and I knew I had to take the pictures.”

Coqueran repositioned himself and watched the explosive fight unfold.

“Carolyn was trying to get something from him (I always assumed it was the dog’s leash) and he pushed her back several times, as if he was going to hit her. In some shots you can see his hand against her face,” he says.

‘At one point, when she was grabbing the leash, he grabbed her hand ring and took off her engagement ring. It looked like the ring broke because John looked down at the ground and had to pick up two pieces.

“The whole thing was very public and made me very uncomfortable and nervous.” she added. “But eventually they stopped arguing and many sat quietly on the park bench.”

The couple then left the park, at which point Coqueran heard John tell Carolyn, “I don’t even know her…I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

1718744201 234 Inside story of infamous fight between JFK Jr and Carolyn

“The whole thing was very public and made me very uncomfortable and nervous,” Coqueran says.

1718744201 763 Inside story of infamous fight between JFK Jr and Carolyn

“At one point he sat on the sidewalk outside the park and put his hands on his head,” she recalls.

'They argued some more and Carolyn had tears streaming down her face. In the end they hugged,” she added.

‘They argued some more and Carolyn had tears streaming down her face. In the end they hugged,” she added.

“My theory is that the argument started because he was angry about the New York Times list about his mother,” says Coqueran, “but when young couples start fighting, they tend to bring up all above. Carolyn seemed to be referring to another woman and John was trying to rule her out.

“The whole thing lasted about an hour,” he added. ‘At one point she sat on the sidewalk outside the park and put her head in her hands. They argued some more and Carolyn had tears streaming down her face. “At the end they hugged.”

Seven months later, on September 21, 1996, the couple married in a private ceremony on Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia.

“I think he married her for damage control,” Coqueran says. ‘When she took his ring from her it seemed like she was over the relationship. But after the photographs came out, she maybe felt like she had to do it.

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