The War Over
King's Legacy

The Children Who
Would Be King

(continued from Page 1)

That happenstance changed the life of a retired autoworker who was living quietly in a New York suburb with his wife and one of his children. (Because of fears for his own safety, I have not published his last name.) The Ray team spent two years harassing him with video and camera surveillance and repeated telephone calls to his home. They even named him in a lawsuit that was eventually dismissed. I have had the first on the record interview with the New York Raoul, and have examined his work and immigration records. After immigrating to the United States from Portugal in 1961, he worked for the same auto company for nearly 30 years. He was at work at the time of both the Kennedy and King assassinations. He has never been to Texas or Tennessee. He has never met Glenda Grabow. He has no connection to the case--a fact that Memphis prosecutors confirmed in a report released last week. Also last week, Ray's lawyer produced an ex-FBI agent who claimed to have documents proving Raoul's existence. Within 24 hours, the FBI had dismissed the allegation as "a total fabrication."

The TV Confession: What about restaurant-owner Loyd Jowers and his confession? Confidential files maintained by the Memphis prosecutor's office indicate that Jowers's likely motivation was to sell his story for $300,000. Memphis prosecutors interviewed the two sisters whom Pepper claimed had worked in Jowers's restaurant and had corroborated his story. Both recanted. Moreover, in a telephone conversation between the sisters, taped by authorities, the main witness for Jowers admitted that the entire story was false.
Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King and her daughter Bernice at the funeral of her husband April 9, 1968. (AP Photo/Moneta J. Sweet Jr.)
When asked why she had lied to support his tale, she did not hesitate: "Because he [Jowers] can, they can make it into a movie, he'll get paid... That's why Loyd doing this here. He'll get paid $300,000 if he had somebody back this statement up... I was trying to get some money for my, to pay my income tax..."

The Military Mystery: A careful examination reveals the theory that a covert team of snipers--a squad called Alpha 184--tracked King is spurious. Among Pepper's critical errors: there was no Alpha 184 unit in existence in 1968. Pepper named two sources for his military scenario: two soldiers identified only as Warren and Murphy. But nobody fit the service records and career details set forth for Warren and Murphy, who were supposedly former special forces soldiers on the team--which suggests they either do not exist or are con men who sold Pepper a phony story. A copy of military orders Pepper used to prove the existence of the special unit and the operation against King are a forgery. And a soldier that Pepper thought was killed as part of the government cover-up is alive--and has sued Pepper for libel since learning of the attorney's allegations. While military intelligence did, at the request of the Johnson administration, monitor King, there was no covert group of snipers that followed him from city to city.

No Raoul, no new paper trail, no legitimate confession from Loyd Jowers, no secret military sniper team. If the new information developed by the Ray defense team is bogus, then who killed King, and why? Based on my review of thousands of government and private documents, as well as many interviews, I have concluded that the answers lie with James Earl Ray.

Born into a dirt-poor family with a century-long history of run-ins with the law, James Earl Ray grew up in tough river towns in Illinois and Missouri. A breeding ground for the KKK, the area was dubbed "Little Dixie." Eventually all eight Ray children were removed from Ray's alcoholic mother and placed in foster care.
FBI poster

James Earl Ray
His father abandoned the family. But the terrible upbringing brought Ray close to his brothers John and Jerry. They trusted and relied on one another.

When he was 17, Ray joined the Army. He became infatuated with Adolf Hitler through the influence of a close German friend, and asked to be stationed in Germany. He got kicked out of the Army, and in the following years was convicted of increasingly serious crimes. Early in his prison career, he refused to accept a transfer to the prison's integrated honor farm--Ray, who had never lived or worked with blacks, was not about to start. In 1960, Ray, who was then in the Missouri State Penitentiary after a 23-month sojourn in the outside world, began boasting that there was money to be made in killing black leaders like H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, and King. This talk could easily have brought Ray to the attention of those in the prison who wanted King dead.

During the 1960s, there were dozens of threats against King and standing bounties on his life. Several had filtered into the Missouri State Penitentiary, and one that might have reached Ray came from John Sutherland, a lawyer and segregationist in St. Louis, who offered $50,000 to anyone who killed King. Some who learned of Sutherland's offer had friends and associates in the same sections of the prison where Ray was incarcerated. There is a distinct possibility that Ray learned of this $50,000 bounty by late 1966, or early 1967. Ray's brothers, who deny any involvement in the King assassination, could also have heard about the bounty and passed the news to James. On April 23, 1967--one day after a visit from his brother John--Ray broke out of prison.

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