10 Facts and Theories that Will Make You Rethink the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.
10 Facts and Theories that Will Make You Rethink the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.

10 Facts and Theories that Will Make You Rethink the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.

Patrick Lynch - March 15, 2018

10 Facts and Theories that Will Make You Rethink the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.
Ray in 1977 (second left). Also pictured Gary Revel (far left), Jack Kershaw (second right) and Jerry, Ray’s brother (far right) – The New York Times

8 – Ray Briefly Escaped Prison in 1977

When it became clear that Ray’s bizarre Raoul story had been exposed for the crock of crap that it was, he became desperate. The chances of him getting a new trial were virtually nil, and he seemed destined to die in prison. Worse still, he was in the maximum security Brushy Mountain State prison. At that time, no one had ever launched a successful escape attempt from the jail. However, Ray had managed a daring prison escape once and was determined to do it again. On June 10, 1977, he saw his chance to make history as he, along with six fellow inmates, broke out of prison.

It was a detailed plot that had been some time in the making. The escape occurred when two prisoners staged a fight to distract the guards. Seven inmates scaled the prison’s 14-foot wall using a ladder made from plumbing materials. One of the escapees, David Powell, didn’t get the chance to taste liberty because he was shot by a guard after he had made it beyond the prison walls. Powell reportedly said: “Ray got away!” while he lay bleeding on the ground.

Although it was an embarrassing episode for the prison, the other six convicts didn’t stay at large for long. Officials in Tennessee began an all-out manhunt, and within minutes of their escape, the prisoners had hundreds of members of law enforcement chasing them. Ray was only free for 55 hours before the police found him in the nearby Cumberland Mountains. Two days later, every other escapee had been recaptured. It was the latest in a long line of escape attempts by Ray who seemingly enjoyed the challenge of trying to break out of jail.

In 1971, he tried to escape from Brushy Mountain by hacking through a bar, breaking fan blades and crawling into a ventilation tunnel. He left a dummy in his bed in an escape reminiscent of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. Ray crawled through the tunnel and made it as far as the prison yard underground. He took away a manhole cover from a steam tunnel and tried to get through. However, the 400-degree temperature in the room forced him to backtrack, and the guards caught him. Ray made another failed attempt in 1972.

10 Facts and Theories that Will Make You Rethink the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.
Coretta Scott King with her husband – The Root

9 – King’s Family Supported Ray’s Calls for a New Trial

Despite the fact that every piece of evidence pointed towards Ray as the killer, King’s family still supported his plea for a new trial. What they expected to learn is unclear but shortly after Ray’s death in 1998, King’s widow, Coretta Scott, lamented the fact that America would never receive the benefit of a new trial for Ray which would have provided new revelations about the murder. Ray tried to get a new trial throughout his life, and in 1997, he met Dexter King, the son of the murdered reverend.

The King family has always maintained that the assassination was carried out by elements of the government. There had been doubts about the case against Ray from the beginning, and since he never had the opportunity to speak at a trial, the King family believed he could shed new light on the assassination if given a chance. The House Select Committee on Assassinations re-examined the case in 1976. The Committee was chaired by Louis Stokes, and in its final report, it suggested that Ray may not have been a lone gunman. However, the report also stated that there was no convincing evidence of government involvement in the death of King.

In 1993, William Pepper staged a mock trial on television which found Ray ‘not guilty.’ The aforementioned meeting between Dexter and Ray was televised, and King’s son was convinced that Ray was innocent. Despite the support of the King family, Ray was never given his day in court, and he died in prison on April 23, 1998. However, even his death didn’t close the lid on the case as another individual claimed involvement and was on the receiving end of a civil suit.

Given the evidence against Ray, it is puzzling that the King family believe he is innocent. We can understand if they think Ray had help when murdering their father but to suggest total innocence is a gigantic stretch. He was an avowed racist, and there is every chance that he found out about the $50,000 bounty on King’s head. It was offered by a segregationist lawyer named John Sutherland who lived in St. Louis. Ray could have learned about the bounty while in prison, either through the grave vine or from his brothers.

His brothers also said that Ray outlined his intention to kill King. Even though he was on the run after his escape from prison, he was obsessed with killing the reverend and probably started stalking him from March 17, 1968, onward. He definitely purchased the rifle and rented the room across from King. Perhaps he would have gotten away with it if he didn’t panic after seeing two police cars parked in the fire station close by. He threw away the evidence and fled the scene; the police used it to identify him. If Ray were part of a conspiracy fronted by professionals, he would never have survived 30 years in prison. They would have killed him to ensure he didn’t give the entire game away.

10 Facts and Theories that Will Make You Rethink the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Lorraine Motel – YouTube

10 – The United States Government Was Found ‘Guilty’ of Conspiring to Kill King

In 1999, there were rumors that the United States Government had been found guilty of conspiring to murder King. The case cited as ‘evidence’ was the civil lawsuit filed by William Pepper on behalf of Dexter King, against a Memphis bar owner named Loyd Jowers. The case was also against unnamed co-conspirators and was named Coretta Scott King et al. vs. Loyd Jowers et al. The case was heard at Shelby County’s circuit court in Tennessee and lasted from November 15 to December 8.

The lawsuit was six years in the making, and its background began in December 1993. Jowers, the owner of Jim’s Grill, a bar located below the part of the rooming house where Ray stayed, decided that he wanted national attention, so he appeared on ABC’s Prime Time Live show. According to Jowers, he was part of a complex conspiracy to kill King which involved the Federal government and the Mafia. He also said Ray was a patsy. Jowers claimed that a man came in the back door of Jim’s Grill from the bushes outside, and asked Jowers to hide a rifle.

While it was an explosive story, to begin with, interest started to fade when it was confirmed that Jowers, was in fact, lying through his teeth. For one, why did he wait 25 years to tell his incredible tale? The biggest problem with Jowers’ story was the fact he changed the identity of this mystery man several times. First, the shooter was African-American, then he was Raoul. Jowers changed his mind again and said it was a white Lieutenant with the Memphis Police Department before finally deciding that he couldn’t recognize the individual after all. Had Jowers been given more of the spotlight, there’s a fair chance he would have incriminated the Tooth Fairy.

Before his appearance on TV, Jowers claimed that he was serving customers in the bar at the time of the shooting. Suddenly, the story changed, and the bar owner said he received $100,000 to find an assassin to kill King. Unsurprisingly, the United States Department of Justice dismissed Jowers’ claims. If he thought it was the end of the story, Jowers was in for the shock of his life when the King family filed a civil lawsuit. During the case, Pepper presented evidence from 70 witnesses and thousands of pages of transcripts. It is important to note that Jowers did not testify in the case and had never mentioned his allegations while under oath.

Incredibly, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff which was taken to mean that they believed Jowers had been involved in a complex conspiracy to kill King. Despite the bizarre outcome, it is important to remember that there was little at stake. Jowers was only being sued for $100 which meant that he didn’t need to defend himself vigorously and risk lying under oath. The King family was able to present its case unopposed, and the jury had no option but to find in favor of the plaintiff since an enormous amount of contradictory evidence was never presented. Ultimately, there is not, and never has been, any credible proof that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by anyone other than James Earl Ray, alone.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“Izola Ware Curry, Who Stabbed King in 1958, Dies at 98.” Margalit Fox in The New York Times. March 2015.

“James Earl Ray.” Biography.com.

“This Day in History, April 4, 1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated.” History.com.

“Riots following the killing of Martin Luther King Jr.” James Coates in the Chicago Tribune.

“When Martin Luther King Jr’s Assassin fled to London.” Vincent Dowd in BBC News. June 2016.

“King conspiracy theories still thrive 40 years later.” James Polk in Black in America 2, CNN. December 2008.

“VI. Raoul and his alleged participation in the assassination.” The United States Department of Justice. August 2015.

“James Earl Ray flees a prison in Tennessee with 6 other convicts.” The Associated Press in the New York Times. June 1977.

“The Truth About Memphis.” Gerald Posner in the Washington Post. 1998.

“Martin Luther King Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle.” Kingcyclopedia.

“Was the U.S. Government Found Guilty of Assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr.?” Fact Checked by Kim LaCapria at Snopes.com. January 2015.

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