Thursday, 21 February 2002 21:26

The Confessions of Talmadge Hayer

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The following two affidavits are essentially confessions by the only assassin in the Malcolm X case to be apprehended. Talmadge Hayer, AKA Thomas Hagan, made these statements in 1977 and 1978 under the supervision of famed defense attorney William Kunstler who was handling the Malcolm X case at the time.

(Both statements are taken as they appear in Michael Friedly's Malcolm X: The Assassination.)

State of New York
County of Ulster

I, Thomas Hagan, being duly sworn, dispose and says:

1)    I am one of the persons indicted for the murder of Malcolm X at the Audubon Ballroom, New York, N.Y., Feb. 21, 1965.

2)    That I have been sentenced to life in prison for my part in the crime.

3)    That I am now incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Facility.

4)    That I am writing this affidavit in the hope that it will clear my co defendants of the charges against them in this case. My co defendants are Thomas 15X Johnson and Norman 3X Butler.

That sometime in 1964 Malcolm X was said to have gone against the Leader of the Nation of Islam, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.

By the following year Malcolm X was declared a hypocrite by the Nation of Islam.

That in the summer of 1965 I was contacted by a Brother named Lee and another Bro. named Ben.

These brothers asked me what I thought about the situation with Mal. X? I said I thought it was very bad for anyone to go against the teachings of the Hon. Elijah, then known as the Last Messenger of God. I was told that Muslims should more or less be willing to fight against hypocrites and I agreed w/ that. There was no money payed to me for my part in this. I thought I was fighting for truth & right. There was a few meetings held concerning this. Sometimes these were held in a car driving around. Bro. Lee, Bro. Ben, a Brother named Willie X, the other Brother's name was Willbour or a name like it. From these meetings it was decided that the only place that Mal X was sure to be was the Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965. Therefore the plan was to kill this person there. On Feb. 21, 1965 we met at Bens house Sunday morning. On Feb. 20 1965 we had gone to the Ballroom to check it out.

One Sunday morning we, the above named, got in this Bro. Wilbour's car and drove to N.Y.C. We parked the car a few blocks away and two at a time drifted into the Ballroom early. Me and Bro. Lee took sets down front in the first row.

Bro. Willie and Ben sat right behind us, and Bro. Willbour took a set far in the back. It was his to throw the firebomb & pretend that someone was picking his pocket. I used a 45 weapon. Bro. Lee had a lugar and Willie X had the shot gun. The plan was that when the shooting, started people would be running all over the place & with this we could get out of the Ballroom.

So when the shotgun went off Bro. Lee & me fired our guns at Mal. X. & ran for the door. I was shot in the right leg but was able to keep moving on just one leg. I was able to get down stairs by sliding down railing to the floor. I was captured right outside Ballroom by a police officer.

This affidavit is factual, to the best of my knowledge. Thomas 15 Johnson and Norman 3X Butler had no thing to do with this crime whatsoever.

Thomas Hagan

Sworn to before me
this 30th day of November, 1977
William M. Kunstler


Malcolm X and Alex HaleyMalcolm X and Alex Haley
Norman 3X ButlerThomas 15X Johnson

Hagan proffered a second affidavit the following year that went into a bit more detail. It appears that both these statements were made in order to instigate a movement by the Congressional Black Caucus to include an investigation into the murder of Malcolm X by the House Select Committee on Assassinations. If so, the effort failed.

State of New York
County of Ulster

I, Thomas Hagan, being duly sworn, disposes and says:

That this affidavit is an addition to my first affidavit. And that the statements made herein are more in detail and hopefully will clear up any doubt as to what took place in the killing of Malcolm X and the innocents of Norman Butler and Thomas Johnson.

It was some time in the summer of 1964 that I was approached concerning the killing of Malcolm X. The time must of been a month or so before the Hon. Elijah Muhammad spoke in New York City in 1964.

I was walking in down town Paterson when two brothers, both Muslims, was driving by in their car. I knew these men well. They asked me to get in the car. They wanted to talk to me. Both of these men knew that I had a great love, respect and admiration for the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.

They started talking about what was going on with Malcolm X and how this man was defaming the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. This was the feelings of most men in the N.O.I. at that time...

I know that it was Ben who spoke to Leon first and then they spoke to me. I learned from them that word was out that Malcolm X should be killed. I can't say for I don't know who passed that word on. But I thought that Ben knew.

We soon got together with two more men. Both lived in Newark, N.J. Ones name was William X ... I never knew his last name.

The other man was a Bro. named Wilbur or Kinly. I don't know his full name. But we used his car on Feb. 21, 1965.

We met a few times to discuss how to carry out this killing. Some times we talked while driving around. Or at Bens or Lees house. Some times we drove around for hours.

We tryed to get, as must information on the movements of Mal. X as we could.

We, the people above stated, drove out to Mal. X. house one night to see what security was there. We found it heavyly guarded. We soon decided that the only place that Mal X would be was at the Ball Room where he was making speeches to the people there. In fact we attened one of these meetings to see what security was there. We learned that no one was searching at the door for weapons. This was in the winter of 1964-65.

We talked about this on the way back to Jersey. We drove back in Ben's car. We knew that the only place that Mal X was sure to be was at that Ball Room. And we decided that with a crowd there we had a good chance of getting in there and out after the move was made, the shoting that is.

We decided to visit the Ballroom the night before the killing to set this up. It was a dance that night and we came there like everyone alse, got a ticket went in and looked the place over. This was Feb. 20, 1965.

This night we used Bens car and on the way home we discussed what everyone thought. Everyone agreed that we would do this the next day. Feb. 21, 1965. The next morning we would meet at Leons house and Bens, to go over our plane. We decided after looking at the place that we would get there early. Drift in and take sets. Leon and me up front and left side facing stage. Ben and William right behind us. I had the 45 auto. Leon the Luger. William had the shotgun.

Wilbur or Kinly had the set in the back of the place. His job was to accuse someone of picking his pocket and throw the smoke bomb. This was timed to happen when Mal X started to greet the people. Almost at the same time William would fire the shotgun and Leon and I would fire our guns at Mal X. and run for the door.

On Feb. 21, 1965, we drove to NYC in Wilbur or Kinly's car, a blue Cat., about 1962 or so. We parked a few blocks from the Ball Room on a street heading for the George Was. bridge. We figure that with all the people there we would make it out in the crowd.

As for the weapons I got them from a man who had them for sale. I bought them from him. This person had nothing to do with the crime. I made the smoke bom that was used. I, Thomas Hagan have written this affidavit in the hope that the information would exonerate Thomas Johnson and Norman Butler of the crime that they did not commit. This affidavit is factual to the best of my knowledge. And I am willing to state what took place in the matter before any court of law.

Thomas Hagan

Witnessed by
Nurriden Faiz
Sworn to before me
This, 25th day of February, 1978

In his book CONSPIRACYS, author Baba Zak A. Kondo went into even more detail about the identities of the assassination team. He listed the following names and information in his appendix on pages 203-205.

Albert "Benjamin" Thomas Assistant secretary of Newark Mosque. Born on July 22, 1938 and died on October 28, 1986. He was 5'8" or 5'9" tall, 170 pounds; wore glasses with black frames, thin with brown complexion; married with four or more children. He lived in a second floor 4-5 bedroom apartment in a wooden building on Hamilton Avenue in Paterson, New Jersey. He worked in an envelope manufacturing company in Hackensack, N.J. as a cutter. He played basketball and was a member of the Fruit of Islam.

Leon Davis At the time of the murder he was 20-21 years old, 5'9," 175 pounds. Formerly resided on lower Market Street, in Paterson, New Jersey. He was married and lived on Hamilton Avenue in Paterson. He worked in an electronics plant in Paterson and was also a member of the Fruit of Islam. When Kondo visited Paterson in June of 1989, he learned that Davis still visits the city and lived in the neighboring area.

talmadge hayerTalmadge Hayer Hayer was 22 at the time of the assassination. He was 5'11" and 180 pounds. He resided on Marshall Street in Paterson, New Jersey. He was married at the time and lived with his mother and two sisters. He was arrested in 1961 for disorderly conduct and in 1963 for possession of stolen guns. He was also a member of the Fruit of Islam.

bradley shabazzWilliam Bradley was 27 years old at the time of the killing. He was 5'10" or 5'11" tall. He lived in Newark, New Jersey and was a member of the Newark Mosque and a member of the Fruit of Islam. In 1979, he was serving a 7-15 year sentence in the Caldwell State Prison, Bergen County New Jersey. He refused to talk to Kondo. According to Kondo, Bradley was the man who fired the shotgun during the assassination. To quote Kondo directly: "I interviewed one retired Newark policeman who knows Bradley. He contends that a surprising number of people in Newark knew that Bradley was a killer. The former policeman recalls once sitting in a bar talking to Bradley. Shortly after the assassin left, another brother looked at him and said, "You know, that's a killer." Years later, the policeman learned that Malcolm had been one of Bradley's victims."

Wilbur McKinley who Kondo thinks has passed away. Was over 30 years old at the time of the shooting. Was 5'9" tall and on the thin side. He was married and owned his own construction business and did work around the Newark Mosque. He was a member of the Fruit of Islam and lived in Newark. Was the most difficult of the five for Kondo to find information on. He may have been an accomplice of Hayer in his 1963 gun store robbery.

Originally published in The Assassinations, ed. DiEugenio & Pease (Los Angeles: Feral House, 2003), pp. 425-429.

Note that since the publication of this article, there has been a startling development concerning the participants in the assassination.  In 2010, documentary footage filmed outside of the Audubon Ballroom moments afterwards was posted on line; the film revealed the presence of both William Bradley and Norman Butler at the scene.  Questions as to whether Hayer actually perjured himself as to the latter's innocence have thus arisen. [eds.]

See A Watershed Moment in History.

Last modified on Sunday, 19 February 2017 01:43

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