Did Abraham Lincoln’s assassin live for more than three decades after he was officially reported dead? The answer could lie in a mummified corpse that once toured the country under the name of John Wilkes Booth.
Though Booth officially died in a barn fire just days after firing a fatal shot into President Lincoln on April 14, 1865, Egyptologist and producer Ramy Romany says new evidence could prove that Booth actually lived for more than 30 years after the murder. This week, in a new episode of Discovery’s Mummies Unwrapped, Romany uses cutting edge technology to try to crack the code. To find out if he was successful, we went one-on-one.
Souled Outside: Tell us about your background as an Egyptologist
Ramy Romany: I was born in Egypt, and my father produced all of the local documentaries for Discovery and National Geographic. He made almost anything related to ancient Egypt that aired on the networks.
As a child in Egypt, you do what your dad does. So, at 12 years old, I was on set everyday doing what he did. When I was 12, I had my name on a BBC documentary on Egypt, and it kept going from there. While I was filming, I was often the first on location at ruins and sites, scouting what we were about to be filming. That grew a fascination within me, of course, with ancient Egypt and archeology. Now, I can read and write hieroglyphics.
Over the years, I kept doing documentaries. I’ve been a producer for 25 years of my life while also doing on camera expert roles for Discovery and National Geographic.
Souled Outside: You’ve got your own show now, Mummies Unwrapped, which is airing on Discovery Channel. Was the show your idea or one that Discovery came up with and pegged you as the star of?
Ramy Romany: Discovery’s Daniel Schwartz and I came up with the idea together for this show, along with Rob Hill from the Fight or Flight production team. From there, we decided to go and explore. We decided to try to discover mysteries from all over the world. Most people don’t realize that mummies are not just in Egypt. There are mummies all over the world. In this season, I go to Peru, Argentina, Oklahoma, and Washington, D.C.
Souled Outside: Oklahoma? I’m guessing that leads us to the Johns Wilkes Booth Mystery.
Ramy Romany: Exactly. The alleged John Wilkes Booth mummy toured the country in the early 1900’s, and hundreds of thousands of Americans saw him. The mummy was around until the 1970’s. That was the last time it was seen.
The clues and evidence of the theory suggest that John Wilkes Booth got away with the most notorious crime in American history, because the mummy is actually 35 years older than Booth was when he officially died, just a few days after President Lincoln’s assassination.
Souled Outside: You said the last time the mummy was seen was in the 1970’s, but mummies don’t just disappear. Somebody has him. Where do you think he could be?
Ramy Romany: In the 1970’s, a lot of people starting feeding obsessions by being sideshow mummies. The carnival shows and freak shows were taking a downturn economically, and people took advantage of that. There are a lot of private collectors in America that have dead people in their houses, but they tend not to share that information.
Souled Outside: Without the actual mummy, how can you prove that it really was John Wilkes Booth?
Ramy Romany: Today’s technology is incredible. If we had the mummy, even a sample could tell us details like what they had for their last meal. But without the mummy, there is still a lot we can do.
In this episode, I use modern technology to try to crack this 150 year old case. One of the tools I use, even though we don’t have the mummy, is new facial analysis technology that is being used by police to try to capture criminals. People have been put behind bars with this technology. It works by measuring different facial features and assigning them a numeric code that’s not matchable by any other face. Maybe, they say your identical twin could match it, but even that is not likely.
Because we do have pictures of the mummy, I tried to compare it.
Souled Outside: And what were the results?
Ramy Romany: You’ll have to tune in to see, but I have a feeling you’re going to love this episode.
Mummies Unwrapped, the John Wilkes Booth airs this Wednesday at 10:00 p.m.EST on Discovery. Follow Ramy Romany on Instagram for updates.