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Lisa Bessette Lost Her Twin, Younger Sister And Brother-In-Law In Crash That Killed JFK Jr. 20 Years Ago — Where Is She Today?

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What Happened To Lisa Bessette? New Details On Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's Sister (And Lauren Bessette's Twin) 20 Years After The Plane Crash

20 years ago this week, the plane carrying John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister Lauren Bessette crashed in the Atlantic Ocean en route to Martha's Vineyard. There were no survivors. On that day, Caroline Kennedy became the last living member of her immediate family. Lisa Bessette became the only daughter of a family that once had three.

She not only lost Carolyn, her younger sister, she also lost her twin sister Lauren. Since the tragedy that gripped the world on July 16, 1999 and the days and weeks after, the Bessette family has been very private about their grief. With two decades gone by, Lisa's life has moved on. She's older than either of her sisters ever got to be. She's had 20 years of birthdays without her twin.

What happened to Lisa Bessette?

1. Her life now

Lisa Ann Bessette was born in White Plains, New York on November 5, 1964 alongside her twin Lauren. Her mother, Ann Freeman was a teacher and father, William Bessette worked for a kitchen design firm. When the girls were young, their parents went through a bitter divorce. Lisa's mom eventually married the prominent orthopedic surgeon Richard Freeman and the family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut. 

Lisa is currently in a long-term relationship with Howard Lay, an art history professor at the University of Michigan who is 11 years older than her. She has a PH.D. in Art History from the University of Michigan. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan not far from the university. Lisa works part-time for the University of Michigan Art Museum as a "contract editor."


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RELATED: 8 New Details About The Jackie Kennedy/Lee Radziwill Feud

2. The crash

On July 16, 1999 when her sisters' plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, Lisa was in Munich working on her doctorate in Renaissance studies. JFK Jr. and Carolyn were flying to Hyannis Port to attend the wedding of his cousin Rory Kennedy. Lauren was going to be dropped off at Martha's Vineyard along the way. Lisa finished her academic work in 2005.

An acqaintance of Lisa's told the New York Post that her sisters' deaths drove her into an extremely private life off the grid. She settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan and kept her circle of friends small. Lisa has no known social media accounts. Photos of her are fairly impossible to find. Her circle of friends protects her privacy. Journalists who attempt to pry co-workers or friends for information about her are shut down immediately. 


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3. She was very close to her sisters

When her younger sister Carolyn married John F. Kennedy Jr. on Cumberland Island, Georgia in 1996, Lisa was there. She was very close to both of her sisters, according to an aquaintence who knows Lisa today. She was, as mentioned, a twin with Lauren and Carolyn was just two years younger. 


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RELATED: How Did Lee Radziwill Die? New Details About How Jackie O's Younger Sister Died

4. The acrimony between the Bessette and Kennedy families

Lisa, her parents and stepfather all attended the service for JFK Jr. and Carolyn but not long after, the relationship between the two families disintigrated. Steven Gillion, the auther of America's Reluctant Prince: The Life of John F. Kennedy Jr. told the New York Post that the Bessette family was never comfortable with the marriage.

He said: Their mom at the wedding the night before gave a toast where she essentially said she didn’t think this was the right marriage for her daughter. ” After the crash, things quickly went sour between the two families. According to E! News, the diaries of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. revealed that members of the Kennedy family told Carolyn and Lauren's mother Ann Freeman that John would be buried in the family plot in Brookline, Massachusetts. They were allegedy told "they could do with Carolyn as they pleased." Reports claim that Ann Freeman was (and likely still is) so upset about her daughters' deaths that she wouldn't even say JFK Jr.'s name.


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5. The wrongful death lawsuit

Ann Freeman filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of her daughters against JFK Jr.'s estate. According to the Telegraph, Bessette's family settled with the Kennedy family for $15 million. “The agreement comes after months of legal wrangling. Negotiations between the two families began about 18 months ago, with the Kennedys offering $7 million, while the Bessettes were asking for at least $20 million.” 

The NTSB report blamed pilot error for the crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Lauren Bessette. JFK Jr. was a relatively new pilot and he didn't have much experience flying a plane at night without an instructor. 

RELATED: Ted Kennedy's Romantic History

6. She's abroad for the anniversary

Lisa Bessette is not in the U.S. for the anniversary of her sisters' deaths. Her partner Howard Lay teaches a six-week summer course in Paris called "Paris by Site." Lisa has gone to Paris with him. 


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Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.