Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is unlikely that the full story of the assassination of Martin Luther King will ever be known.

Martin Luther King was shot at 6:01 PM on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. James Earl Ray, an escaped prisoner from Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, was eventually caught and confessed to the crime. It was claimed that he was a known racist and a loner, but his brother makes it clear he was no racist. In late 1967, his partner in crime was a man of mixed race and Ray did not seem to have a problem with that. At another point he had a job as a dishwasher, working with more than 3o blacks.

For part of his time in prison, he was watched very closely in E Hall because he had tried to escape. On the first failed attempt, he fell had hurt himself, and in the second he ended up hiding in a ceiling. By any account, he was not a very bright man. Once, when doing a robbery, the victims refused to turn over the money and he ended up falling out of a window. Another prisoner said he was “ a not-too-bright hillbilly.” Ray was one of a half-dozen men who rented out magaines in the yard, but he did not have as good a selection as his competitors. Fellow prisoners who used amphetamines claim that Ray was not selling drugs, as defenders of the lone nut theory insist. The man was a loner and would have been robbed by the gangs had he been selling drugs. George M. Camp, former head of the prison system, has written that there was no evidence Ray was selling drugs.

William Sullivan, then F.B.I. Director of Intelligence, wrote that he was convinced that Ray killed King but he thought he did not act alone. Someone showed him how to get a fake Canadian passport and to travel to Canada and Europe. Hoover had told Sullivan that King was a tool of the international Communist conspiracy, and Sullivan spnt years trying to destroy King’s good name.

He escaped April 23, 1967 travelled through St. Louis and went to Chicago, where he got a job as a dishwasher. He acquired a cheap car and a driver’s license, which gave him an identity. He met his brother Larry, who told him the F.B.I. was looking for him. He had received a large amount of money from a mob connected man named “Obie,” and gave his brother Larry $25,000 of it. From there he moved to the Montreal area, where he acquired money by robnbing a pimp. He claimed to meet a man in in a waterfront bar who was named “Raoul,” who would be the connection to the people behind the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Raoul gave him the Mustang and money and gave him instructions. During his period of freedom, Ray had engaged in the sophisticated use of aliases. In Montreal he had used the names of real people. He met C.I.A. man Jules Ron “Ricco” Kimble, and that agent later told BBC that in 1989 that he took Ray to a C.I.A. identity specialist. Kimble, a nororious racist with ties the mob, the Klan and Minutemen, is now in an El Reno, Oklahoma prison serving a life sentence. Kimble told Lyndon Barsten that a psychiatrist from the Allen Memorial Institute at McGill University hypnotized Ray. The Allen Institute was the site where C.I.A. mind control experiments were carried out after World War II. Dr. Philip Melanson interviewed a former C.I.A. agent who had served in Canada. The former agent confirmed that the agency had an identity specialist in Montreal, and he said. Raoul was called Raoul Maora

On January 4, 1968, Ray went to the office of Reverend Xavier von Koss, a hypnotist in Long Beach. James had another Los Angeles hypnotist, and thought he was taking a course from von Koss. Ray had been in News Orleans before that, and there is some evidence that he met William King Harvey there. Harvey was then head of Executive Action for the C.I.A.. It is theorized that the Mossad became very interested in using hypnosis to program assassins after the C.I.A.’s success in using Ray.

Three of the men, whose names Ray used, lived near each other in the Toronto area and resembled Ray in appearance. Ramon George Sneyds was one of them. Ray and someone else used this alias at the same time. The second Sneyds was in London at the same time as Ray and headed for Heathrow about the same time as Ray.

Ray spent several weeks in Mexico, attended bartending classes in Los Angeles, where he used the name “Eric Starvo Galt,” and there is evidence that someone else there was using the same alias. This is a standard practive of intelligence agencies used to make it hard to track people. The real Galt lived in Canada. Ray apparently did some gun running on the way to Memphis.

Ray said that the man who hired him was named Raoul, but it later turned out there was no “O” in the name. James Earl Ray never knew who Raul represented, but he thought it was a federal organization of some sort. There has even been some speculation that Raul may have represented the C.I.A.’s “Domestic Operations Division, ” established by Lyndon Johnson to deal with special national security problems. A VOCO (Vocal Order of the Commanding Officer) would have been enough to authorize an assassination. According to his brother, James had simultaneous contacts with the feds and the mafia. Raul gave Ray a telephone number to call to get instructions. It turned out to be a number for a motel owned by Carlos Marcello. His brother Larry wrote that even on the day of the assassination, Ray thought he was the get waway car driver.

The night before the killing , someone in King’s Atlanta office arranged to have
King’s room moved from an inside court to the second floor on the outside of the motel. It was exposed to potential shooters from several directions.

There was a firehouse in plain view of King’s room. There was also a field filled with weeds adjacent to the firehouse. After King was shot, Olivia Catling saw a man fleeing the field and race away in a Green Chevrolet, peeling rubber. Another witness saw smoke in the bushy field.

There were 16 white policemen at the firehouse on a rest break. They provided no useful information. There were two African American officers in the detail assigned to protect King. They were pulled off the detail, supposedly on the request of someone connected with King or that of a local African American minister. The two African American firemen assigned there had been moved to other locations for that night.

Solomon Jones, King’s chauffer, saw a man leaving the bushy area and saw a puff of smoke coming from the bushes near the bar. Earl Caldwell, a New York Times reporter, saw someone crouched in those bushes. . On the next day, on police orders, the city cut down the bushes in the field. After Jones made these comments, he was jailed on check stealing charges. Upon his release, he refused to discuss the case.

Ed Redditt, a black detective on the security detail was told he could go home. There were no other officers. He went to the fire house to continue watching. Later that afternoon, he was taken home because his life had been threatened
Ray was said to have shot Dr. King from a bathroom window in a flophouse/rooming house called Brewers Boarding House, above Jim’s grill. The F.B.I. ballistics expert wrote that a shot from there required a highly skilled marksman and that the gun would have to have been six inches into the wall. Hence, the persecutors had to argue that Ray had somehow contorted himself around the bathtub. The slug in King’s chest was not matched to the rifle. A second Remington weas found—this one stolen from a Memphis dealer. At the time, the F.B.I. did not run tests to see which rifle had definitely been used. Two residents of the building said Ray did not look like the man thought to be Ray.

The F.B.I. paid $30,000 in bills for the man who identified Ray leaving the flophouse. In prison, Ray told a TV interviewer in 1988 that the F.B.I. said they would arrest his father and brother if he did not confess to the killing.

Two witnesses saw Jowers, manager of the bar, carry the gun inside after Ray had discarded it while exiting the flophouse. Witnesses said he gave a gun to a cabbie who said he dropped it in the Mississippi River.
Betty Spates, a former barmaid at Jim’s said on February 10, 1969 that Jowers found the gun outside and may have actually been the trigger man. Two days later she recanted.

Ray’s fingerprints were found on a pair of binoculars and a rifle that was equipped with a sniper scope. He recanted his confession after three days, claiming he was forced into a plea deal by his lawyer. He was given a 99 year sentence.

Running from the flop house, he stopped at nearby Canipe’s Amusement Company and dropped off a bag with the Remiongton rifle, binoculars, ammunition, and other items. He had first purchased a Winchester, saying the Remington was too expensive. Then he made the exchange, claiming it was on the davice of his brother. He had purchased the weapon in Birmingham, using the name Harvey Lowmeyer.

Ray escaped in a pale yellow Mustang that looked white to witnesses. By coincidence, there was an almost identical Mustang seen fleeing the area. There was a faked radioaccount of a car chase that misled police. It was thought that some teenager was responsible, but some who have listened to the tape thought they heard the voice of a man in his mid-thirties. The car believed to bave been driven by Ray was found in Atlanta.

James Earl Ray travelled to Canada by bus, and then to Portugal and England. He was apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in London. It is very hard to believe he knew how to get a false passport to hide in Canada after his escape. When he was in England, after the King shooting, he bungled an attempt to rob a bank.

Much later, former F.B.I. agent Donald Wilson, who claimed to have impounded Ray’s white Mustang in Atlanta’s Capitol Homes project, claimed he found and kept a piece of paper with Raoul’s name written on it. He said he did not trust some people involved in the investigation. Jack and Mary Kershaw, who once represented Ray, said Raoul gave Ray a phone number he could use to obtain help from organized crime. The number was for a motel owned by Carols Marcello. William Bradfond Huie, Ray’s firwst lawyer, had been close to the F.B.I. since the 1930s, and may have taken the job to control the story. The second attorney, Percy Foreman, claimed to detest Huie, but the Ray family thinks the two of them worked for the governm,ent. There iw no way to know. Larry Ray does reprint a shocking letter from Foreman demanding that Ray plead guilty in return for a $500 loan to Jerry Ray.

In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that there was a conspiracy on the part of St. Louis bigots to kill King and that Ray was the shooter. At that time, Buster—not Buster Wortman—of the Bureau of Prisons spoke to Larry Ray, a prisoner in a halfway house awaiting permanent parole. Buster told him the HSCA wanted to clear any questions about where James Earl Ray’s money came from and to make sure there were no ties to the government. For that reason, Larry had to plead guilty to another bank robbery and that would eventually get him parole. He refused, was beaten by Buster in the presence of Father Zimmerman of Dismas Housde, and was sent to Marion for assaulting an officer. He was also beaten with a federal marshal’s chain.

Larry was to make a third appearance before the committee. For some reason, the man the feds had gotten to make up stories about the new robbery felt remorse, gave the notes the feds prepared for him to attorney Mark Lane, and held a press conference. Larry got out of Marion was rearrested on false burgulary charges. Larry Ray appeared for a third time , this time, at a televised hearing. Then James appeared, after having been badly beaten the day before. HSCA also went after their sister, Carol-Ray Pepper, making it appear she was a bag woman for the Mob. Larry Ray had his sentence extended several times, once three years for using paper towels to heat cold coffee. Another three years were added for being late in submitting handwriting samples to the F.B.I. crime lab. He was released in 1988 and had to have t both feet amputated. He feared hew would be imprisoned again, but he remained free.

In 1997, it was found that 2/3 of the bullets from the murder scene did not match the gun that was said to be Ray’s rifle, a Remington 760 Gamemaaster. Its scope was not sited. At the same time, Judge Joe Brown found that markings on some of the test bullets fired in that rifle did not match those on bullets at the murder scene.

On December 9, 1999, a Memphis civil jury found that the death of Martin Luther King was the result of a conspiracy and that Loyd Jowers, manager of a bar, was involved. Six of the jurors were white. They added that government agencies were also involved.

Loyd Jowers told Prime Time’s Sam Donaldson in 1993 a man named Raoul visited him the day before the shooting and brought him a gun in a box. He said Raoul was a gun runner who had migrated to the US from Portugal in 1961. According to Colin Piper, an investigator living in England, Raoul was part of an international arms smuggling operation . Lawrence Meyer was another smuggler and a close friend of Ruby, whom he met the night before the shooting of John Kennedy.

Dallas night club owner Jack Ruby was also involved in the smuggling and he and Raoul were seen together at the time of the JFK assassination. Eric Galt, a Canadian with some kind of ties to gun smuggling, also comes into the story. He owned a warehouse where top-secret C.I.A. materials were kept as well as some top secret Navy and army weapons. Since August 1967, there was a paper trail that he was cooperating with the 902 Military Intelligence Group in Project Mexpo, which seems to have been an effort to smuggle supplies to Israel. For some reason, Ray seemed to think he working for Israeli interests, and he came to support the Palestinian causes before his death. Ray used as his main alias “Eric Galt.”

Jowers claimed he was asked to help by a mafia-connected produce dealer named Frank C. Liberto. Libreto said there would be a patsy to take the blame and that no police would be present. Libreto sent a man with $100,000 for Jowers to hold. Jowers added that three policemen and to other people he thought were government agents were at a meeting where details of the assassination were discussed. One of those policemen later worked for the C.I.A.. Jowers said that Liberto had him hire the real shooter, but refused to say more without a grant of immunity. Jowers did not speak at the 1999 civil trial but the TV interview was shown.

At 5:15 that day, John McFerren was at Liberto’s warehouse to pick up produce. He heard Libreto tell someone on the phone,’shoot the son-of-a-bitch on the balcony." The Libreto involvement was confirmed by cafĂ©-owner Lavada Addison who said Liberto admitted to having King murdered. There was a witness to the conversation who confirmed it. Liberto said, `I didn't kill the nigger but I had it done.' I said, `What about that other son-of-a-bitch taking credit for it?' He says, `Ahh, he wasn't nothing but a troublemaker from Missouri. He was a front man . . . a setup man.'" The F.B.I. had received a tip about the Liberto connection, investigated, and discounted the story.

There is less than compelling evidence that there were two men on top of the firehouse that evening. They identified themselves as part of the Army's 111th Military Intelligence unit. They said there were to film everything King did. If they were there, did they just film what happened, or did they participate? It is known that several Special Forces units were used for domestic intelligence in those years.

Former C.I.A. operative and whistleblower Jack Terrill said that his friend J.D. Hill had been activated for a Special Forces sniper team that was to go to Memphis and serve in a back-up capacity. They were trained in triangular assassination, but their mission was cancelled while enroute to Memphis. The target was unknown. Hill was later shot to death. A senate Judiciary subcommittee on constitutional rights report in 1972 noted that the King organization had been “infiltrated by the 109th, 111th and 116th Military Intelligence Groups.” In Orders to Kill, King’s friend William Pepper provided the names of people in the 20th Special Forces Gropup whom he thought wre involved in the assassination.

Ted Willburn has done an impressive analysis of a photograph taken at the Lorraine hotel seconds after King was shot. There were three men on the balcony looking the same way and all pointing the same way—up at about 11 o-clock. One would think at first that they were pointing at the bathroom at the flophouse where Ray was supposed to have fired the shot. When the picture is enlarged it is clear they were not pointing at the bar/flophouse building. None was pointing at 422 South Main. Had that been the case, they would have been pointing straight-out at 9 o-clock. This is consistent with the autopsy finding that the bullet can downwared, moving from right to left and entering through Dr. King’s neck. They seemed to be pointing in the direction of a penthouse and the Memphis firehouse communications tower.

That photograph is also interesting because it shows Marrell McCollough of the Memphis Police Department’s Intelligence kneeling by King. He had been undercover and infiltrated civil rights groups. At the time he was back in the military as part of the 111th Military Intelligence Group assigned to his old department. After King’s death, he served as an agent provocateur and produced the convictions of some activists. He then joined the C.I.A.

The F.B.I. arrived at the murder scene in minutes but waited 30 minutes to put out the news of King’s death and the assailant’s flight. Its code name for Dr. King was “Zorro,” meaning false messiah in Spanish. Director J. Edgar Hoover told reporters in 1964 that Martin Luther King, Jr. was the “most notorious liar” in the country. The agency’s Conintelpro ( Domestic Intelligence) operation taped King’s telephones and living space and kept close tabs on his every move. One bug alone, in a Waldorf Astoria room, yielded 19 reels of tape. That division also provided outlets with anti-King articles and editorials. After King’s death, the F.B.I. watched Coretta Scott King because they feared she would link the peace movement to the civil rights movement.

Dr. McCarthy DeMere, who examined Ray before the sentencing, asked Ray if he really did it. Ray said "Well, let's put it this way, I wasn't in it by myself." On the other hand, the strongest argument against a conspiracy is that Ray remained alive a number of years after King’s death. In 1974, he told his brother Larry that the Feds paid the Mafia to kill King because “King started biting the hand that fed him.” Even then, Ray did not know if he was dealing with the military, the F.B.I., or the C.I.A.. He was just hypothesizing. Brother Larry said James did not even know the F.B.I. had a Division Five. There are two unconfirmed stories of federal agencies offering bounties for the murder of King. In June, 1989, Myron Billett, Sam Giancana’s chauffer, said thqat in 1968 he drove his boss and Carlos Gambino to an upstate New York motel to meet with representatives of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I.. The federal agents offered $1 million for the death of King, but the mobsters did not accept. Giancana said, "Hell no, not after you screwed up the Kennedy deal like that." The HSCA heard evidence of 1965 F.B.I. discussions with criminals in Louisville about a contract to kill King. An F.B.I. agent in Louisville confirmed that this discussion took place.

Bill Sartor, a LIFE stringer, and Louis Lomax, a friend of Martin Luther King, worked on books about the assassination. Lomax tied the event to the death of Malcom X and Sartor was interested in the mob connection. Sartor died of an alleged drug overdose that was later ruled a murder. Lomax died in a single car crash in New Mexico.

There is one odd link between James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan. Both men had been hypnotized by Reverend Xavier von Koss, head of International Society of Hypnosis. While Father Von Koss hypnotized Ray in Montreal, he worked on Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles. Even Gerald Posner, the establishment’s best apologist, admits that Father Von Koss met Ray, but he artfully explains it away.


Anonymous said...

Zorro means "fox" in Spanish. Not false prophet.

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