Assassination of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Part 3

About the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., history and account of alleged assassin James Earl Ray.



Only a single fingerprint on a map in the Mustang had been discovered, and one print was also reportedly found on the rifle itself. The unusual scarcity of fingerprints was added to two other puzzles. Clothes found in the satchel and in the trunk of the Mustang were of different sizes. Also, despite the fact that Ray was a nonsmoker, the motel room and the floor of the Mustang were littered with Viceroy butts. These facts suggest the possibility that it was not Ray--or at least not Ray alone--who occupied the room and drove the car.

Suspecting that Ray had left the country, authorities began to examine passport information. In Canada, the Royal Mounted Police discovered that Ray had obtained passports in the names of at least three other men: Paul Edward Bridgeman, Toronto policeman George Ramon Sneyd, and Eric St. Vincent Galt (who signed his middle name so that it appeared to be "Starvo").

James Earl Ray was finally arrested on June 8 in London's Heathrow Airport. In attempting to board a British European Airways flight for Brussels, he had accidentally shown two passports, one for George Ramon Sneyd and a second for George Ramon Sneya. While questioning him about the dual passports, security officers routinely searched him and discovered a loaded .38-caliber pistol. Ray stayed calm until Scotland Yard official Thomas Butler told him that he knew his true identity and that he was wanted for murder. At that point, Ray laid his head on his hands and wept.

A question which continues to dog the Ray case is that of money. Ray had spent $2,000 for the Mustang, undergone plastic surgery, attended bartending school and dancing lessons in Los Angeles, and lavishly entertained a Canadian woman who reported that he had told her, "There's plenty more where that came from." Yet Ray was a prison escapee with no money of his own. The only benefactor he might have had was his brother Jerry, a manual laborer unable to finance the costly pursuits Ray indulged in.

In spite of these discrepancies, law-enforcement officials continue to maintain that there was no conspiracy in the murder of Dr. King. When news reports exposed FBI activities concerned with King, the U.S. Justice Dept. began an internal probe to determine the validity of accusations of a cover-up. It revealed no evidence that the FBI had been involved in the assassination. A second investigation, headed by the FBI itself, also failed to unearth evidence of conspiracy of FBI involvement.

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