Assassination of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Part 2
About the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., history and account of the search for the assassin.
The Victim: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
The Assassin: The first lead was the discovery of a zippered satchel, a bedspread, and a cardboard case containing a Remington Gamemaster rifle, model 760, 30.06-caliber, with a 2 x 7 telescopic sight. The parcels had been hastily deposited in front of Guy Canipe's Amusement Company. "He sure burned leather," declared Canipe about a man on foot. Two of Canipe's customers, Bernell Finley and Julius Graham, had also seen the man run past and drop the items, but no one could give a clear description to Lieutenant Ghormley of the Memphis police.
In the rooming house next door to Canipe's business, tenants were perplexed by the man from Room 5B who had locked himself in the floor's only bathroom. He had registered that morning as John Willard and had bypassed more expensive rooms to choose a location 15 ft. down the hall from the bathroom. The fatal shot had traveled from the window of that bathroom 205 ft. across to the balcony of Room 306 in the Lorraine Motel.
Two tenants at the rooming house, Willie Anschutz and Charles Stephens, claimed to have seen Willard going around the corner at the end of the hall and down the stairs shortly after the shot was fired, but no one was able to give a positive identification. To complicate matters further, there were no fingerprints found in Willard's room or in the bathroom, not even on the doorknobs.
The most detailed description of the supposed killer was given by Canipe, who said he had been "a white man, a little under 6 ft., pretty well dressed, dark-headed, no hat, and wearing a dark suit." Other descriptions varied. In addition, not one but two white Mustangs had pulled away from the amusement store after the murder, and they had been going in opposite directions. Lt. Rufus Bradshaw called in a report that one of the cars had been spotted and was being chased, but police following Bradshaw's directions found nothing. The lieutenant later stated that he had gotten his information from a young motorist of doubtful credibility.
Next, the police turned their attention to the items left behind at the Canipe establishment. In the small canvas satchel they found some clothes, a pair of pliers, and a newspaper headlined, "King Challenges Court Restraint. Vows to March." The pliers were traced to the Romage Hardware Store in Los Angeles, and laundry marks on the clothes led to a cleaners two blocks away. Police were thus able to come up with a name: Eric Starvo Galt. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Ga., an abandoned white Mustang registered in the name of E. Galt was found.
Police next discovered that Galt had been taking dancing lessons and attending a bartending school while living at the St. Francis Hotel in Los Angeles. The bartending school was able to provide a picture of Galt, and the picture was identified as that of James Earl Ray.
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