Sunday, 15 June 1997 16:41

Martin Luther King's Son Says: James Earl Ray Didn't Kill MLK!

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An early report on Dexter King's meeting with James Earl Ray, which led eventually to the civil trial in Memphis in which the jury confirmed the latter's innocence in the shooting of Martin Luther King.

From the May-June, 1997 issue (Vol. 4 No. 4) of Probe

On Thursday, March 27, nearly 29 years after his father's death, Dexter King met with James Earl Ray in a small room at the Lois DeBerry Special Needs Facility, Ray's current home. Dexter faced Ray, and after several awkward minutes of small talk came to the question to which so many want the answer: "I just want to ask you for the record, did you kill my father?"

"No I didn't," came Ray's reply. And in a display of the grace and compassion for which his family has long been known, Dexter King replied, "I just want you to know that I believe you, and my family believes you, and we are going to do everything in our power to try and make sure that justice will prevail."

True to his word, Dexter, recently supported by his older brother Martin Luther King III, has continued to talk to the media at every turn, calling for a trial to answer the questions long buried in this case.

The week after this historic meeting, Dexter King appeared opposite David Garrow on NBC's Today show. Garrow is the author of the book The FBI and Martin Luther King. He was also one of the ARRB's guests at the "Experts Conference" held in 1995. At that appearance, Garrow was pushing the ARRB to investigate the FBI's possible role in the assassination of President Kennedy.

On NBC, Garrow and King were clearly at cross purposes. King was calling for a new trial, and Garrow was there to convince all that Ray's guilt was beyond question. Garrow made an astonishing, insulting attack on the King family by saying:

I think it's very sad that the King family and the King children are so uninformed of the history that they could be open to believing that Mr. Ray was not involved in Dr. King's assassination ...

Unfortunately, the King family has not looked at the record that the House Assassination committee [HSCA] compiled 19 years ago. There's really no dispute among people that know this history well about Mr. Ray's guilt."

King, besides wondering aloud how anyone could object to the family's wanting to know who killed their loved one, pointed out:

The House Committee did not have all the information. If it was such an open-and-shut case, why today are we asking this question?

Just a few days after this exchange, King and Garrow met again on CNN's Crossfire. On that show, King openly accused Garrow of being a spook:

Mr. Garrow, I've been told – and I am now more than ever convinced – is an agent for the national security and intelligence forces to distort the truth in this case.

Garrow responded by saying it was "very sad and very embarrassing for the King family to be in a position where it's saying things like that." But indeed, it is Garrow who should be embarrassed. Anyone who knows the history of the King assassination knows full well that the evidence shows conspiracy, and that Ray was most likely not the assassin.

Likewise, this would not be the first time someone accused media people of covering up for the government in this case. During the HSCA, Walter Fauntroy, one of the members studying the King assassination, charged that reporters covering the HSCA were linked to the CIA and suggested the HSCA might investigate them. A few days later, for reasons about which we can readily speculate, Fauntroy backed down, saying the HSCA had "no plans now or in the future" to seek testimony of journalists regarding their possible ties to the intelligence community.1

Fauntroy was most likely correct in his charge, if the history of this case means anything. One of the earliest books written on the James Earl Ray case was one by Gerold Frank. William Pepper, Ray's current attorney, in his book Orders to Kill, quotes from an FBI memo from Assistant Director Cartha DeLoach to Hoover's close confidant, Clyde Tolson:

Now that Ray has been convicted and is serving a 99-year sentence, I would like to suggest that the Director allow us to choose a friendly, capable author or the Reader's Digest, and proceed with a book based on the case.

The next day, DeLoach followed up his own suggestion with this:

If the Director approves, we have in mind considering cooperating in the preparation of a book with either the Reader's Digest or author Gerold Frank ....Frank is a well known author whose most recent book is The Boston Strangler. Frank is already working on a book on the Ray case and has asked the Bureau's cooperation in the preparation of the book on a number of occasions. We have nothing derogatory on him in our files, and our relationship with him has been excellent.2 [Emphasis added.]

Another author favored by the intelligence community was George McMillan, whose book The Making of an Assassin was favorably reviewed by no less than Jeremiah O'Leary. Mark Lane tells us, "On November 30, 1973, it was revealed that the CIA had forty full-time news reporters on the CIA payroll as undercover informants, some of them as full-time agents." Lane adds, "It seems clear than an agent-journalist is really an agent, not a journalist." He then tells us:

In 1973, the American press was able to secure just two of the forty names in the CIA file of journalists. The Washington Star and the Washington Post reported that one of the two was Jeremiah O'Leary.3

On March 2 of this year, the Washington Post ran not one but two articles condemning Ray and the calls for a new trial, written by longtime CIA assets Richard Billings and Priscilla Johnson McMillan, wife of George McMillan. In another paper the same Sunday, G. Robert Blakey, the architect of the cover-up at the HSCA, also made his voice heard for the case against a new trial. And a week later, Ramsey Clark – the man who within days of the assassination was telling us there was no conspiracy in the King killing – has also recommended the formation of yet another government panel in lieu of a trial for Ray. The only voice missing was Gerald Posner. But his too will come. Posner's next book will be about the Martin Luther King assassination, according to Time magazine.

Is the presence of such people commenting on the James Earl Ray case just coincidence? Or indicative of a continuing cover-up? Examine their backgrounds and decide for yourself.

Priscilla & George

It's predictable, really, that Priscilla would be writing in defense of the official myths relating to the MLK case. "Scilla", as her husband called her, has been doing the same in the John Kennedy assassination case for years. She just happened to be in the Soviet Union in time to snag an interview with the mysterious Lee Harvey Oswald. Later, she snuggled up to Marina long enough to write a book which Marina later said was full of lies, called Marina and Lee. Priscilla's parents once housed one of the most famous and high-profile defectors the CIA ever had – Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Josef Stalin. Evan Thomas – father of the current Newsweek mogul of the same name and the man who edited William Manchester's defense of the Warren Report – assigned Priscilla to write the defector's biography. Alliluyeva later returned to the Soviet Union in dismay, saying she was under the watch of the CIA at all times.

I think that Miss Johnson can be encouraged to write pretty much the articles we want.

- 1962 CIA Memo

Is Priscilla CIA? She applied for a job there in the fifties, and her 201 file lists her as a "witting collaborator," meaning, not only was she working with the agency, she knew she was working with the agency. And how independent was she? In a memo from Donald Jameson, who was an experienced Soviet Russia Branch Chief and who in the same year handled Angleton's prize (and the CIA's bane) Anatoliy Golitsyn, wrote of Priscilla:

Priscilla Johnson was selected as a likely candidate to write an article on Yevtushenko in a major U. S. magazine for our campaign...I think that Miss Johnson can be encouraged to write pretty much the articles we want.4 [Emphasis added.]

Priscilla's latest writing shows that either she never learned the truth about her husband's book, or she is unabashedly willing to support the lies therein. For example: George McMillan has long since been taken to task by researchers for writing that Ray's hatred of King came about as Ray watched King give speeches from Ray's prison cell. But that prison had no TVs available to inmates, either in cells or cell blocks, until 1970 – two years after King had been killed! This has long since been exposed in print in numerous places. Yet Priscilla repeats this canard in the Washington Post, in 1997. Is this another assignment?

In addition, George McMillan relied heavily on James Earl Ray's brother Jerry as a source. Yet Jerry and George both admit that Jerry lied to George. Jerry also alleged, and George did not deny when given the chance, that George made up quotes and attributed them to Jerry. Now, Priscilla writes uncritically of George's version of events, without acknowledging to Post readers any of these serious challenges to the credibility of George's description of events.5

George McMillan himself is also a very interesting character, who shows up in both the King and Kennedy assassination investigations. What is not well known is that George McMillan was one of the earliest post assassination interviewers of George de Mohrenschildt. As reported by Mark Lane on Ted Gandolfo's Assassinations USA cable program, George McMillan had been in Dallas a few weeks after the assassination. He left his notebook in a hotel with Oswald's name in it. When the notebook was found, it was reported to the FBI. In it were notes McMillan had taken from de Mohrenschildt. Later, George tried to get in on the Garrison investigation, according to a memo from Garrison's files, but was rejected because he came on like "three bulls in a very small china shop." And after de Mohrenschildt's alleged suicide, McMillan wrote the following in the Washington Post:

I stayed with de Mohrenschildt and his wife in their lovely house which clutched the side of a steep hill overlooking Port-Au-Prince – and which was, not insignificantly, I suppose, within the compound where Papa Doc Duvalier then lived. We had to pass through heavily guarded gates as we came and went.

One can only imagine the kind of clearance needed to be able to live inside the dictator's compound, and to gain access to it as a journalist.


The rest of this article in its original form is embedded below, and can also be found in The Assassinations, edited by Jim DiEugenio and Lisa Pease


1. Three Assassinations, Volume 2 (New York: Facts on File, 1978), p. 245. Fauntroy's original charge was made 4/27/77.

2. William Pepper, Orders to Kill (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995), pp. 53-54.

3. Mark Lane and Dick Gregory, Murder in Memphis (formerly Code Name: Zorro) (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1993), pp. 232-233.

4. CIA Memo from Donald Jameson, Chief SR/CA, dated December 11, 1962.

5. Lane and Gregory, pp. 230-251.

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Last modified on Friday, 13 October 2017 00:56
Lisa Pease

Lisa Pease was co-editor with Jim DiEugenio of Probe Magazine and also edited with him The Assassinations.  She has written a number of ground-breaking essays on the connections between Freeport Sulphur, the Eastern Establishment and the CIA, on James Angleton, and on Sirhan and the RFK assassination.  Lisa is currently finishing her book on the latter subject, the product of more than two decades of research.  She also runs a blogspot on recent history and current events.

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