WHO KILLED MARTIN LUTHER KING?
Michael T. Griffith
@All Rights Reserved
On April 6, 1968, at 6:01 p.m., Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Local and federal authorities claimed the deed was the work of a lone gunman, James Earl Ray, and this remains the FBI's position on the case to this day. However, researchers have uncovered a great deal of evidence that Dr. King was killed by a conspiracy.
What follows are some interesting points concerning the assassination of Dr. King. I have gleaned them from three sources: Michael Newton's book THE KING CONSPIRACY (Holloway House edition, 1987), the British documentary WHO KILLED MARTIN LUTHER KING?, and the two-hour British presentation of the mock trial that was held in Tennessee in 1992, THE TRIAL OF JAMES EARL RAY. (The jury unanimously found Ray not guilty.)
* The alleged assassin, James Earl Ray, was a rather poor shot in the Army.
* At Ray's evidentiary hearing, a ballistics and rifle expert testified that not even the most skilled gunman could have accurately fired a rifle in the manner claimed by government.
* The bullet recovered from King's body could not be matched to the alleged murder weapon.
* The only eyewitness who said he saw Ray leaving the boarding house bathroom, from which the fatal shot was allegedly fired, was thoroughly drunk at the time according to two other witnesses. This lone witness, Charles Stephens, could not be located in 1992 when British researchers tried to contact him. More importantly, Stephens' first three descriptions of the man he saw leaving the bathroom did NOT resemble Ray. Additionally, Stephens qualified all of his descriptions, even his belated identification of Ray, with the declaration that he did not get a good look at the man.
* Of the other two witnesses who saw anyone leave the boarding house bathroom, one said that he (like Stephens) didn't get a good look at the individual, but the other witness, Grace Walden, said she did get a good look at him and that he was NOT James Earl Ray.
* Regarding Ray's whereabouts during the week before the shooting, two witnesses at the boarding house insisted that the man who rented Ray's room did not look anything like Ray.
* The alleged murder weapon was conveniently dropped near the front door of a shop next to the boarding house. The rifle was wrapped in a bundle that included some of Ray's belongings (even some beer cans he had used). The bundle was found less than two minutes after the fatal shot was fired. British researchers for the 1992 documentary WHO KILLED MARTIN LUTHER KING? pointed out that it is doubtful that in just two minutes or less Ray would have been able to exit the supposed sniper's nest, go to his room, gather up the personal items for the bundle, wrap and tie the bundle, leave his room, walk down the stairs, stroll out of the boarding house, and then drop the bundle in the entrance of the nearby shop where it was found. The researchers also questioned why on earth Ray would have left such an incriminating bundle of evidence so close to the crime scene when he could have put it in his car, which was supposedly parked near the front of the boarding house. In addition, they wondered why Ray would have taken the time to wrap and tie the bundle in the first place if he planned on leaving it right next to the boarding house.
* According to a former investigator for Ray's defense team, a service station manager saw Ray several blocks from the boarding house right around the time of the shooting, proving that Ray could not have done it. The manager was reportedly stabbed soon after he began to talk to the investigator for Ray's defense team. This claim was made by the investigator himself.
* The highest ranking black police officer who was supposed to work on the police security detail for Dr. King, and who was in fact in charge of the detail, was sent home against his will hours before King was shot.
* Shortly before the shooting, the police security detail for Dr. King was reduced from eight men to just two men, and the black officer mentioned above was one of those two men. Thus, at the time Dr. King was gunned down, his police protection had been reduced to a lone policeman.
* The only two black firemen who worked at the fire station across the street from the Lorraine Hotel were, for reasons that remain unclear, told to report to different stations on the day of the shooting. Yet, the next day, oddly enough, both were then allowed to return to their regular station next to the hotel.
* Witnesses at the scene believed the shot was fired from the bank of trees behind the boarding house, and not from the boarding house itself. A couple days later, all of those trees were cut down and the entire area behind the boarding house was cleaned up by order of Memphis city officials.
* One witness, who was sitting just in front of the bank of trees, said he heard a rifle fired directly behind him at ground level, and not from the boarding house. Two people at the fire station said that a boy came in and related much the same story, but the young man apparently left before police could question him.
* A few months before King was murdered, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, whose hatred of the civil rights leader is no secret, distributed an internal memo that called for King's "removal from the national scene."
* Hoover also approved an FBI plan to use "friendly press contacts" to pressure King into staying at the Lorraine Hotel, which was an all-black hotel on the edge of the poorer section of the city. King always stayed at another hotel when he came to Memphis, but after taunting editorials and stories appeared in the Memphis press, he decided to stay at the Lorraine Hotel.
* The Memphis city official who was responsible for temporarily relocating the two black firemen and the black police officer on the day of the shooting was an ex-FBI agent and a former associate of J. Edgar Hoover.
* The FBI's first bulletin on "the suspect" identified him as "Eric Gault." Although this was one of the aliases used by James Earl Ray, the picture of Gault that the FBI obtained did not resemble Ray.
* There was an ambulance right next to the Lorraine Hotel. But, when the ambulance was called moments after the shooting, it could not respond because, for some unexplained reason, three fire trucks had been parked around it earlier in the day, completely blocking it in.
* A private ambulance arrived about seven minutes after the shooting, but Memphis policemen would not allow it to take Dr. King to the hospital. They insisted on waiting until a city ambulance arrived.
* A few days before the murder, certain black leaders got wind of a plot to kill Dr. King in Memphis, and they promptly warned the Memphis police department. However, as mentioned, instead of increasing security, the department reduced King's protection detail from eight men to two men, and one of those two men was called away against his will only hours before the shooting.
* An experienced and reliable Miami police informant named William Sommersett likewise learned of plot to kill King in Memphis. Sommersett's report on what he had learned was in the process of making its way through Miami police intelligence channels on the day King was shot. Upon learning of King's death, the Miami police department forwarded Sommersett's report to the FBI. In addition, Judge Seymour Gelb of Miami personally wrote to the Attorney General to call his attention to the report. The FBI showed no interest in Sommersett's account and wrote to the judge that the Bureau already possessed "all relevant information" on the case. Said Judge Gelb, "The FBI ignored Sommersett's revelation of a plot to kill King."
* The day before Dr. King arrived in Memphis, someone claiming to be King's "advance man" went to the Lorraine Hotel and changed King's reservation from a ground-floor room to a room on the balcony. As mentioned, King was shot on that very balcony moments after he emerged from his room to go to dinner. Subsequent investigation found that none of King's traveling associates knew of any "advance man," and the description of the man did not match any of King's friends or associates. In fact, when King's party arrived at the hotel, they were surprised to learn that their rooms had been switched to the balcony. To this day, no one knows the identity of the phony advance man (no one, of course, except those who hired him).
* For reasons that remain unknown to this day, the Memphis police did not put out an all-points bulletin on the white Mustang that was seen driving away from the boarding house minutes after the shooting.
* Several witnesses complained to newsmen that the FBI ignored their accounts because they seemed to point to a conspiracy in the shooting.
* A select committee of Congress reinvestigated King's death in 1978 and concluded he was probably killed by a conspiracy. But, the committee then sealed its records and files until well into the next century.
Michael T. Griffith (CompuServe ID 74274,650)
Back to Michael T. Griffith