CODE NAME "ZORRO":
The Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Mark Lane and Dick Gregory
Reviewed by Brian Francis Redman
"1. Why were only two police officers assigned to Dr. King on the
evening of April 4, 1968?"
"2. Why was one of those officers, Redditt, removed so
precipitously two hours before the murder?"
"3. Why were the only two black firemen [assigned to an adjacent
fire station] removed from the scene of the murder the night
before it occurred?"
"4. If Raoul did not provide Ray with funds as Ray claimed, where
did Ray secure the many thousands of dollars that he expended
from the time he escaped from the Missouri Penitentiary until his
arrest in London?"
Once more, as in the JFK assassination, we have too many
unanswered questions, questions that are ignored by those who
ought to be answering them. Instead of answers, the public
receives supercilious smiles and pats on the head from persons
acting to be somehow better than us, we the people, of the United
Here's an interesting fact: our old buddy Rep. Henry Gonzalez,
courageous fighter against the Federal Reserve yet timid as a
mouse when it comes to Whitewater, "...had been in the Dallas
motorcade on November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was
assassinated. Congressman Gonzalez had harbored doubts about the
adequacy of the findings of the Warren Commission. Later he
stated that he was also not satisfied with the official
explanations of the deaths of Dr. King and Senator Robert F.
Kennedy, and the attempted assassination of Governor George
Wallace." (It turns out that Wallace also "wasn't satisfied" as
to the official explanation about the attempt made on his life.
The Associated Press, ca. June 29, 1993, quoted Wallace as saying
that he "doesn't believe the man who shot him was acting alone,"
and asking ol' Billy Jeff from Arkansas to reopen the federal
A lot of questions. "Nine years have passed [ca. 1977] since the
death of Dr. King. The American people have not been given the
details about the pathological hatred that Hoover's FBI betrayed
toward Dr. King. Neither have we been told why the black
witnesses were officially stripped from the scene the night
before the murder nor why the police officer in charge was
removed on an implausible pretext just before the fatal shot was
fired. The witness and security stripping was directed by a
former high-ranking FBI official. Mystery surrounds the failure
of the FBI to seek James Earl Ray until April 19th, fifteen days
after the murder in spite of the presence of the fingerprints on
the presumed murder rifle."
"The bullet taken from Dr. King's body was examined by an FBI
agent whose conclusions raise more questions than they answer.
The bullet has not yet been adequately tested. It may not have
been fired from Ray's rifle."
"The cover-up of facts surrounding the murder, including the
publication of news stories, false information leads to authors
of books and magazine articles, and direct lobbying against a
Congressional investigation by intelligence and spy organizations
requires that we ask what it is that is so feared by so few. And
ask as well how powerful the few must be to influence and control
Here's another little tidbit which, by itself may not be
overwhelming, but which when added to all the other little
anomalies surrounding this case gives us the sum total of a
flashing sign on a GoodYear blimp saying "...CONSPIRACY....
COVER-UP... CONSPIRACY... COVER-UP...":
Wayne Chastain, now a practicing lawyer in Memphis, was a
reporter for the Memphis *Press Scimitar*, one of the two
major daily newspapers at the time of the assassination of
After the police concluded that the shot had been fired from
the bathroom window in the rooming house, Chastain came
across an unpublished photograph in the newspaper's files.
Taken by an Associated Press photographer from the bathroom
window, it showed the Lorraine Motel balcony as the sniper
would have seen it if the shot had been fired from there.
Chastain noted that the view was obscured by branches from
trees growing on the embankment between the rooming house and
Later that day he discussed that oddity in the case with Kay
Black, another reporter for the Memphis *Press Scimitar*.
Chastain told me that although the picture was puzzling he
paid little attention to it, "because at that time I believed
the shot had come from that window. I believed that the
police were right about that."
Chastain has continued to maintain a growing file on the case
and has talked with many witnesses since. "Now I no longer
believe the shot came from there. Now I think that picture
and those trees take an added significance," he told me.
Later Kay Black received a telephone call from William B.
Ingram, the former mayor of Memphis. Ingram had called to
inform Black that the city was cutting down the trees on the
embankment between the rooming house and the motel. She later
told me, "Now, I hadn't been in the rooming house looking
through that bathroom window but I do recall Wayne Chastain
having said that he didn't see how someone could shoot
through the trees to the motel. He said that he was puzzled
how a clear shot could have been fired because he didn't see
how you could see through the branches."
Ms. Black determined that the city of Memphis had arranged
for the trees to be cut down and had ordered the city
sanitation department to remove them. She said that Ingram
had called her in the morning. She reported the information
to her desk and that afternoon she visited the murder scene.
"And those trees were down. The screen was gone. There was
just no way any longer to know if that shot could have been
Authorities investigating the assassination relied on two dubious
witnesses, Mrs. Bessie Brewer and Charles Q. Stephens, to place
James Earl Ray in the nearby rooming house between 3:00 and 3:10
p.m. Yet "Mrs. Brewer consistently refused to identify Ray" as
the man to whom she had rented a room there. The other witness,
Stephens, "did not make a positive identification of Ray."
Furthermore, Stephens had "a severe drinking problem. Apparently
he was drunk when the shot that killed Dr. King was fired." His
wife told co-author Lane that "Charlie [Stephens] didn't see
anything. He couldn't have. He was on the bed trying to sleep one
Stephens wife, Grace, was a third witness. But she was silenced.
She heard the shot, then, as she recalls, "Right after the shot a
man left the bathroom and went down the hall and down the steps
to Main Street. I saw the man as he passed the door of my room.
My guess of this man's age was in his fifties. This man was not
quite as tall as I am. He was small-boned built." According to
Grace Stephens, this man had "salt and pepper colored hair."
"At last the Memphis authorities apparently had uncovered a
reliable witness. Yet when Ray was arrested her statement was
inconvenient. Ray was taller than average and Mrs. Stephens had
described a man approximately five feet, five inches tall. Ray
was well-built and muscular and she described a small-boned man.
Ray was in his thirties and she described a man twenty years
So how was she silenced? "Grace Stephens was illegally taken from
her home by other Memphis authorities and placed in a mental
institution... After Mrs. Stephens was illegally placed in the
mental institution, the Memphis prosecutors removed her records
from the hospital, according to her lawyer, C. M. Murphy."
"Murphy also charged that his client had no history of mental
illness and that she was able to care for herself. He said that
the Memphis prosecuting attorneys committed her to safeguard
their case against Ray."
"In 1970, two years after Mrs. Stephens was committed, Murphy
brought an action for her release. A reporter for the *Washington
Post* who attended the hearing said that Mrs. Stephens, 'was
heavily sedated' and that she 'stared blankly.' He reported as
well that 'attorneys say that ordinarily she is bright,
articulate, and reads a great deal and that she completed three
years of college.'"
Grace Stephens was not released and "remains at the institution
now [ca. 1977]."
"Mrs. Stephens has not recanted. When she was visited at the
institution where she is confined she was asked if she remembers
what she saw on April 4, 1968. She answered with a sad smile, 'Oh
yes. I remember what I saw and who I saw run away. That's why I'm
here, you know.'"
So we now near the federally-designated MLK HolyDay. As Dave
Emory has sadly pointed out:
...when you allow a man to be murdered with impunity, when
you allow a man to take a bullet, [when] you will not show
*any* substantive interest in who did the killing -- when the
people who did the killing are a matter of public record!
(And we *know* who did it.) -- it's grotesque. I think it's
really grotesque to name a holiday after somebody, celebrate
a holiday after somebody, when you can't, when you *won't*,
look into someone's murder.
It is like that line from I think it was T.S. Eliot: "And death
walks, grinning, in the parade." The MLK HolyDay is that day when
the *federales* display their trophy, Martin Luther King's head
mounted on 24-hours in time. As Frederick Tupper Sausee writes in
the afterword of *Tennessee Waltz* by James Earl Ray: "It is not
King's life that they celebrate, but his death. King's death is
their handiwork, and they display it proudly."