ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

James Earl Ray Conspiracy Theories

Updated on May 17, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a Baptist minister who was a major leader in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968.

The official version of the MLK assassination is a single man, James Earl Ray, committed the act on April 4, 1968 in Memphis TN. Ray was staying at a rooming house located on South Main Street which had a shared bathroom with a window. According to the government, James Earl Ray shot Dr. Martin Luther King from that window which looked out onto the swimming pool of the Lorraine Motel where the King entourage was staying.

King was shot and killed while standing on the motel’s balcony. Ray spent his life in prison based on a confession which he immediately retracted. Ballistics tests performed on the rifle he supposedly used were unable to link it to King’s assassination.

New Evidence

Surprisingly, the King family does not think Ray was the killer. They won a civil court case proving there was a conspiracy. And now, new evidence has come to light proving the government and media may not have been completely honest about the whole affair.

Just moments after Dr. Martin Luther King was killed by a sniper's bullet, a photographer took a picture in which Dr. King lies on the balcony floor. The witnesses are pointing in the direction the fatal shot was fired from. There is no confusion as to where the shot came from. All three witnesses are pointing the same exact direction. The official story claims they are pointing at the window from which Ray is supposed to have fired the fatal shot. But that’s not where the witnesses are pointing!

The conspiracy theory attracted new media interest in 1997 when King's son, Dexter, met with his father's convicted assassin in prison. Dexter shook Ray’s hand and stated his belief he was innocent.

More Support

More support for conspiracy theories came the following year when Attorney General Janet Reno reopened a limited investigation into the assassination. Eventually, in Dec. 1999, a Memphis jury concluded there was a conspiracy involving bar owner Lloyd Jowers.

In the original version of the assassination James Earl Ray was a career criminal and confirmed racist. There seemed no doubt at the time he was guilty of the assassination. He was an escaped convict who rented a room across from the Motel where King was staying while mediating a sanitation workers' strike. He shot King as he stood on the balcony of the motel. The bullet severed King's spinal cord, killing him. Ray was seen fleeing the scene moments later.

Pointing to his guilt were fingerprints found on a pair of binoculars and the rifle. Records show he had purchased the rifle six days before. Ray was arrested at Heathrow Airport about 2 months later… after robbing a London bank.

Ray pleaded guilty in March 1969 to escape the possibility of execution and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Even though the judge had informed him a guilty plea could not be appealed. Three days later he changed his story. Despite many appeals, Ray's lawyers never produced any convincing evidence to reopen the case. Although a federal investigation in 1977–1978 concluded "there is likelihood" Ray did not act alone in planning the assassination.

Only one witness admitted to have seen Ray leaving the boarding house bathroom, a man named Charles Stephens. But according to other witnesses, Stephens was extremely drunk. The first three descriptions Stephens provided had no resemblance to Ray. In fact, his first two descriptions were of a black man. Stephens eventually confessed he had not gotten a good look at the assassin. It wasn't until the FBI paid a $30,000 bar tab for Stephens that he identified Ray. And Stephens did not see the actual shooting. According to another witness, Stephens was urinating in some bushes at the time of the shooting.

Ray maintained his innocence until he died in prison on April 23, 1998. While there he often spun contradictory conspiracy theories, such as why he initially confessed. Ray claimed it was on the advice of his lawyer who was trying to get a profitable movie contract.

He also claimed he was framed by an elusive character named Raul. Supposedly, the two were in cahoots operating several smuggling operations. Ray said he never knew Raul's last name or even what he was smuggling. According to Ray, Raul instructed him to purchase a rifle and check into a certain rooming house in Memphis, which he did without question.There Ray gave the weapon to Raul and never saw him again.

Another version claims he waited in a car and heard a shot at which time Raul ran out and jumped into the car. However, no Raul was ever found, that is until Ray identified one in 1994 he claimed to recognize from a photograph. The accused was a retired auto worker from New York. But he was immediately cleared of any involvement.

No conspiracy theory would be complete without including the U.S. government, which was provided by Ray’s last lawyer, William Pepper.

He claimed Ray was set up by the government, who had hired a Mafia hit man along with a team of Green Beret snipers as a backup to kill King. But the plot thickens further, adding the CIA, Memphis police, FBI and Army intelligence to the mix. Of course Pepper profits from the sales of his 1995 book,”Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King.” According to the publication, the Green Beret in charge of the snipers, Billy Eidson, was killed to keep the secret.Eidson was later found to be alive and a military cablegram Pepper had produced as evidence was discovered to be a forgery. But that didn't stop Pepper's book from being published. Coincidently its’ publication coincided with Ray’s death from liver disease.

James Earl Ray (March 10, 1928 - April 23, 1998) was born in Alton, Illinois and dropped out of school at 15. He later enlisted in the army shortly after World War II and served a tour in Germany where he became engaged with pro-Nazi sympathies and black marketeering activities. But these activities aren’t what landed him in trouble. He was court-martialed for drunkenness and received a general discharge for incompetence.

He was convicted of burglary in California in 1949 and in 1952 he was sentenced to two years for armed robbery of a taxi driver in Illinois. Following another armed robbery in Missouri in 1955, he was convicted of mail fraud. In 1959 Ray was finally sentenced to 20 years as a habitual offender. In 1967 he escaped by slipping into a van transporting bread from the prison bakery.

It’s a matter of record Ray led a troubled and spotted life. But, was he the one who assassinated King? The world may never know for certain.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Leabeth,

      When I find things like this, I always write about them.

    • leabeth profile image

      leabeth 

      7 years ago

      Very interesting hub, did not know all of this. Liked it a lot and voted it up.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Why, thank you freta.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      WOW! What an interesting hub, I was totally captivated. Never heard of most of this. Yes I did like it and I voted it up.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Pam, Sometimes you have to do a lot of research, which I know you are very familiar with. I read your hubs ya know.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      JY, You shared a lot of information that I didn't know. This was a very interesting hub.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)