The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King

by Dr William F Pepper

Book Review

This book is unique among the volumes of assassination literature. Unlike chronologies of the JFK and Robert Kennedy assassination, the majority of Pepper’s evidence is based on sworn witness statements – either from the lawsuit the King family won against Lloyd Jowers (one of the co-conspirators) in 1999 or the earlier grand jury investigation Pepper instigated in his unsuccessful effort to win James Earl Ray a retrial.*

There are many parallels between New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s unsuccessful 1967 attempt to convict Clay Shaw, one of the JFK assassination co-conspirators, and the civil suit Pepper filed on behalf of the King family. Both Pepper and Garrison targeted low level conspirators and used the power of the subpoena and discovery to ferret out those responsible for instigating, planning and financing these assassination conspiracies.

The strategy worked better in Pepper’s case, in part because he was a private public interest attorney, rather than an elected official who could be removed from office. By the time Pepper launched his lifelong effort to exonerate James Earl Ray in 1978, he had a far better understanding of the Deep State forces arrayed against him. He was extremely scrupulous about protecting the identity of his witnesses prior to presenting their evidence under oath. Pepper withheld the identity of the Memphis Police Department sniper whose bullet killed King until after his death.

Pepper gathered his most crucial evidence after Thames TV aired a TV trial of James Earl Ray in 1993, the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. As Pepper was fighting to obtain a new trial for Ray, a host of witnesses came forward spontaneously, many with historical connections to the Memphis Police Department; the FBI, the 902nd Military Intelligence Group (which provided back up assassination teams); and the Alpha 184 Special Forces team, which photographed the assassination from the rooftop of the fire station across from the Lorraine Motel.

Some of the most astonishing evidence that emerges in The Plot to Kill King:

  • Hoover and the FBI collaborated closely with the CIA and military intelligence in spying on King and infiltrating the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
  • These agencies also collaborated closely in the King assassination, with Hoover funding and directing a civilian assassination team via Dixie Mafia. The latter had close ties with FBI Deputy Director (and Hoover’s lover) Clyde Tolleson. Several witnesses testified that Tolleson traveled to Memphis to make the payoff (totaling $1 million) for the Dixie Mafia to coordinate the assassination and cover-up. Some of these funds went to two members of King’s inner circle, Reverend Jessie Jackson and Reverend Samuel Billie Kyles. In addition to making payments to government informants within the SCLC, Jackson was responsible for ordering the room change that gave King access to the balcony. It was Kyles who lured him out on the balcony to give the sniper a clear shot.
  • The 902nd MIG had a second assassination team in place in case the Dixie Mafia team failed to take King down.
  • The head of the Memphis Police Department (a former FBI agent) and various members of the MPD were involved in setting up the civilians assassination team. The actual shooter was an MPD officer named Frank Stousser.
  • Ray was selected as a patsy for the Kind assassination while serving a 20 year sentence in Missouri State Penitentiary. Tolleson also made a $25,00 payoff to the warden to facilitate Ray’s 1967 escape.
  • Ray had an alibi at the time of the assassination – he was at a service station getting a flat tire fixed, as verified by at least two witnesses.
  • King was still alive when he arrived at St Joseph’s emergency room for treatment, but instead of taking him to surgery, the hospital’s chief surgeon ordered the the other doctors and nurse. One nurse observed this surgeon remove King’s tracheotomy tube and cover his face and neck with a pillow.

At the 1999 civil trial, the jury found that James Earl Ray had no responsibility whatsoever in King’s death. They attributed 30% of the blame for his murder to Lloyd Jowers (as the handler of the assassination weapon) and 70% to US, Tennessee and Memphis law enforcement personnel.


*Ray never went to trial. Like John Lennon’s alleged killer Mark Chapman, he was pressured by his attorney to plead guilty. He tried to reverse his guilty plea three days after sentencing.

Comments
  1. Schlüter says:

    I´m more and more convinced that the assassination did not only have the aim to liquidate a great leader in the struggle for justice and equality, but it might also have had the aim to stirr violent unrest among the African Americans to frighten the majority of White Americans in order to make them devout followers of the war waging Power Elite and Government. See also:
    “USA: The Efforts to Cover the Struggle for Social Justice and Peace, to cover The Class Struggle by the “Race War” concept”: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/usa-the-efforts-to-cover-the-struggle-for-social-justice-and-peace-to-cover-the-class-struggle-by-the-race-war-concept/
    Regards

  2. This is very interesting. However, I find it difficult to believe Jesse Jackson was part of the conspiracy. I’d need to read about that in more detail. I’ve read about Pepper’s work before and had already assumed the FBI, CIA and DOD were involved in the assassination, but have never heard anything about Jesse Jackson being involved until now. It doesn’t sound feasible.

    • Ashiftinconsciousness I, too, found it difficult to believe. Pepper doesn’t make these claims lightly and several sworn witnesses testify to Jackson receiving part of the payoff, ordering the room change and evicting the Invaders (an armed local black power group who helped provide security for King) from the Lorraine Motel. I guess you’ll just have to read the book.

      • Yes, the book is definitely on my (very long) list of books to read. 🙂

        After thinking about it a bit more, I’m wondering if Jackson’s involvement could have been manipulated to appear that he intended to take part in the conspiracy, possibly a way to keep him quiet in case he figured out what happened after the fact – “proof” that he was involved. I’m not saying this is the case, I’m just speculating. This type of behavior just doesn’t fit with the decades of work he’s done.

        Regardless of whether he was involved or not, this is a fascinating story. I’m thankful to you for posting this. I fully intend to read the book.

  3. gerry campeau says:

    Looks like the dots have been connected, Hope they do the same with FDR death involving 2 Doctors and White Russian Lady plus her driver who all attended his death in Georgia. Solve that one and JFK is easy,

  4. Good point, gerry. Unfortunately the more time that passes, the harder it becomes to connect the dots.

  5. Wow, great piece of research here! I’ll have to read more into this.

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