MLK Assassination: Was James Earl Ray Innocent?
Who Done It?
By now, everyone knows the story: on the evening of April 4th, 1968, civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis by a single bullet fired from a boarding house window. After a two month manhunt, James Earl Ray was apprehended at a London airport. He confessed to the murder and received a 99-year jail sentence and died in prison in 1998.
That's the story, at least officially. It has satisfied many, but it leaves too many unanswered questions. Did James Earl Ray really pull the trigger? Were others involved and, if so, why did they want the preacher and Nobel laureate dead? On the anniversary of King's assassination, it would be a fitting tribute to bring his killer to justice. And by killer, we don't mean James Earl Ray...
James Earl Ray Didn't Do It: Exhibit A
He Just Wasn't Smart Enough
Ray was a petty criminal who had been in and out of jail most of his life. Many people, including Time magazine writer Jack E. White and Reverend Joseph Lowery, co-founder of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, don't believe Ray was smart enough to pull off the assassination without assistance.
If Ray was such a brilliant planner and sharpshooter, why was he stupid enough to leave the murder weapon at the crime scene? This sounds like the action of a panicked man, although historian Hampton Sides speculated that Ray got spooked by an approaching cop and ditched the weapon in the street. But the same panicked man was able to get out of the country and evade an international manhunt for a full two months. Then, when he was picked up in London, it was all too easy. The fact that his actions point to both stupidity and street smarts intimate that someone else could have pulled the strings behind the scenes.