Wednesday marks the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.
In short, King, a national icon for the civil rights movement, came to Memphis to lead a march in support of city sanitation workers, the majority of which were black.
At approximately 6 p.m., on April 4, 1968, standing in front of Room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel, King was fatally wounded by a single sniper’s bullet.
On April 11, 1968, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it was looking for Eric Starvo Galt in connection with the assassination.
And on April 18, 1968, the FBI announced it was looking for James Earl Ray, a white, career criminal, who was an escapee from the Missouri State Penitentiary.
Ray was arrested June 8, 1968, at London’s Heathrow Airport.
On March 10, 1969, Ray entered a guilty plea and received a 99-year sentence. He died from liver complications April 23, 1998, maintaining until his death he was not the triggerman in the King assassination.
As mentioned in previous columns, I am convinced Ray was not the triggerman. However, many believe he was.
Here are some related facts, which conveniently haven’t been revealed to the public, that influenced my opinion.
First, there was the Alton Bank robbery. Ray was born in Alton, Ill., thus was familiar with the area.
On July 13, 1967, the Alton Bank was robbed of approximately $27,000 by two masked gunman.
Many, including members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which reviewed the King, John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy assassinations in the 1970s, attempted to connect Ray, and his brothers, to the Alton Bank robbery.
If Ray had been in on the Alton Bank job, his cut would have been approximately $13,500.00, comparable to about $100,000 in 2012.
It could have explained how Ray financed his alleged stalking and murder of King.
Here’s the problem with this theory: Ray crossed over into Canada on July 15, 1967, and he didn’t return to the U.S. until late August 1967.
If, in fact, he was in on the Alton Bank robbery, solely, to procure the funds necessary to finance assassination plans, then why didn’t he initiate his stalking immediately after the bank robbery, instead of going to Canada?
Just think, he’d evaded authorities, made it into Canada, could’ve laid low for a while, kicked back and lived comfortably, got on with the Merchant Marines, and disappeared to wherever. And disappearing was his primary game plan, he repeatedly stated over the years.
Then, out of the blue, Ray turns racist, decides to forgo all the above, and return to the U.S., and kill King. Sound logical to you?
By the way, the authorities never connected any of the Ray brothers to the Alton Bank robbery, and it remains unresolved.
Then, between late August 1967 and June 8, 1968, Ray utilized four Canadian aliases: Eric St. Vincent Galt, John Willard, Paul Bridgman and Ramon George Sneyd.
Troublesomely, all four men bore a striking physical resemblance to Ray. Also, all four lived within a 5-mile radius of each other in Toronto, Canada.
Galt worked at Union Carbide and had a high security clearance. Still, both Ray and Galt had scars on their foreheads and the palms of their right hands.
Doesn’t it strike you as little strange how Ray could have located, obtained and successfully utilized the four Canadian aliases minus some sort of well-connected assistance?
Remember, we’re talking about Ray, the petty crook, not James Earl Bond, the can-do-everything international spy.
Memphis Detective Barry Linville testified – and told me, personally – he witnessed the Shelby County coroner remove the death slug from King’s corpse.
He said it was in pristine condition, intact in one whole piece, and the land and groove markings were so distinguishable there would be no problem either matching the death slug to the alleged murder rifle or excluding it from the same.
The death slug, now, is in three fragmented pieces and on display at the National Civil Rights Museum.
So, my question is this: When and why did the death slug go from one whole piece to three fragments? MP
Mike Vinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.