Before the capture early yesterday of James Earl Ray these theories were propounded in news dispatches on the circumstances of his escape:

"There was a conspiracy for him to escape jail last night. Any man under maximum security and maximum observation could not walk out of jail."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson

"I am convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that James Earl Ray has not escaped but is part of a plan."

The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy

"This leads me to believe we may not be dealing with an escape but with an abduction. The fact that he did escape with such a large group of men leads me to think that he was taken out."

Jack Kershaw, Ray's attorney

"Obviously this was organized on the inside, at least, and it was conspiratorial in nature. I guess the fear I have is whether there was outside participation in the matter and if so, for what purpose. One possibility is that it was an attempt to get Ray to a place where he will never be found again. Another possibility is that it was an attempt to get him out to kill him."

Rep. Louis Stokes, Chairman of the House Assassinations Committee

"I think there are people in the world who would like to see him dead. Dead men don't talk."

Robert I. Livingston, former Ray attorney

"The escape was engineered to see to it that Ray is permanently lost and never heard from again, or to kill him."

Rep. Stokes .

"If he had been captured by the FBI, I think there is a good chance his life would be in danger. They'd like to silence him. One he's out of the way, there's no way to check anything."

Jerry Ray, Ray's brother