A new book by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis‘ former assistant reveals that John F. Kennedy Jr. once had a childhood play date with Robert Chambers — who would one day become known as the infamous “Preppy Killer.”
Kathy McKeon, Jackie Kennedy’s assistant and sometime nanny between 1964 and 1977, recounts in Jackie’s Girl the story of how John Jr. was set up on a play date with the son of a nurse who cared for him after he had bronchitis and who insisted the boys have an outing.
Accompanied by John Jr.’s Secret Service detail and Chambers’ mother, the two boys went to dinner and a show together. The following day, McKeon says she was surprised to learn that Chambers was years younger than John Jr., making for an awkward play date.
“He kept saying the wrong thing at the restaurant, and his mother would get mad at him,” McKeon, now a 72-year-old grandmother of six, recalls John Jr. telling her at the time.
“Every time Robert would say the wrong word, she’d give him a kick under the table,” McKeon told PEOPLE in a recent interview. “She was trying to make him sound all grown-up so he was more in John’s range … But he wasn’t. John was 7 or 8 and this kid was only 4 or 5.”
Adds McKeon in her book: “When the nurse called again to suggest she bring Robert over to play, she was politely but firmly discouraged.”
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Story Behind the Story: Jackie Kennedy and JFK’s Legacy
McKeon remembered the ill-fated play date years later, in 1986, when a then-19-year-old Chambers was charged with killing an 18-year-old woman in Central Park during what he claimed was “rough sex” that got out of hand.
McKeon writes that she called John Jr. to tell him the news because she felt that “no one else would understand how deeply it had shocked me.”
“He said, ‘You’re kidding me!’ He was really shocked,” McKeon told PEOPLE.
For more on the Kennedys, check out PEOPLE’s commemorative edition Jack & Jackie: Remembering Camelot, on sale now.