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RFK Assassination Witness Denies Recanting ‘Polka Dot Dress’ Story

April 22, 1988 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A woman who told police in 1968 that she saw a girl in a polka-dot dress running from the scene of Robert F. Kennedy’s slaying told a radio station that investigators badgered her into changing her story.

Sandra Serrano-Sewell, 40, said Thursday she never recanted her tale of a young woman running from the Ambassador Hotel after the Kennedy’s assassination. The woman, she said, told her and others standing outside: ″We shot him. We shot him.″

During the interview with Jack Thomas of KUOP radio in Stockton, Ms. Serrano-Sewell admitted she altered her initial description of the dress, but blamed police harassment for the change.

″There was a lot of badgering that was going on,″ she said. ″I was just 20 years old, and I became unglued.″

Police files of the Kennedy investigation released in Sacramento on Tuesday reported that Ms. Serrano-Sewell fully recanted the story about two weeks after Kennedy’s June 5 assassination, which came moments after he had declared victory in the California presidential primary.

″The whole thing was a lie,″ the files quoted Ms. Serrano-Sewell as saying on June 20, 1968.

However, she now says that lengthy grilling in a police interrogation room, where white polka-dot dresses were tacked all over the walls, caused her to give in.

″I said what they wanted me to say,″ Ms. Serrano-Sewell said. ″I don’t want to have to go through that again, that kind of everyday harassment - being put in a room for hours with polka-dot dresses all around you. It was just a bad scene.″

She said she felt singled out for police scrutiny although she said four other witnesses standing outside the hotel that night reported similar accounts of a fleeing young woman.

The recently released police files said Ms. Serrano-Sewell recanted her story after failing a lie detector test. Police canceled an all-points bulletin seeking a woman in a white polka-dot dress the next day.