Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated today in Memphis, Tenn. on 4-4-1968. King was in Memphis supporting workers in a struggle over wages, benefits and working conditions when he was killed.
For the next 48 hours, the nation burned, riots swept 168 cities and federal troops were even called in to guard the U.S. Capitol. At least 19 persons had been killed. The annual Academy Awards was postponed, as were the opening games of the American League & National League.
Yet as all of this was going on the killer at the center of it all was on the run. It took two months and the largest manhunt in U.S. history to track down the killer, a man named James Earl Ray.
WHY? What was the motive? We will likely never know which is probably just how James Earl Ray would have wanted it.
After two months on the run, Ray’s luck ran-out: he had been desperate for money, and robbed a bank in London. He was caught trying to board a plane with a pistol.
On June 8, 1968, the manhunt was over.
In the years that followed, conspiracy theories were everywhere about Ray’s motives – though Ray pointedly denied that he was a contract killer.
Author Hampton Sides has spent more than two years compiling a detailed portrait of Ray – untangling the web of false identities and conflicting claims spun by a man who spent most of his adult life behind prison bars.
Long-forgotten photos that show James Earl Ray being brought to jail after his arrest for assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. were unveiled last week to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the civil rights leader’s death.
Dozens of the striking black-and-white photos, along with letters Ray wrote from jail and other documents, were found in 2007 among old county records in a warehouse in east Memphis, Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood said.
The NEW documents are now live on the Shelby County Register of Deeds website at http://register.shelby.tn.us/.