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FTR #1133: The Plot to Kill King

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FTR #1133 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment. [6] 

[7] [8]Intro­duc­tion: In the after­math of the killing of George Floyd, there has been wall-to-wall cov­er­age of his mur­der and of the world-wide demon­stra­tions stem­ming from it. The advent of smart phone (with cam­eras) and the inter­net affords detailed and inti­mate expe­ri­ence of such an event.

How­ev­er, the orgias­tic cov­er­age of that event, the memo­r­i­al ser­vice led by FBI infor­mant and alleged [by the late War­ren Hinck­le] CIA oper­a­tive in Grena­da Al Sharp­ton stands in stark con­trast to the utter silence across the board on the cir­cum­stances of Dr. Mar­tin Luther King’s assas­si­na­tion.

On the fifti­eth anniver­sary of King’s mur­der, Mr. Emory did a twelve hour pro­gram about the cir­cum­stances of the assas­si­na­tion, repris­ing AFA #8 [9] (done in 1985 on the 17th anniver­sary of the killing) and FTR #46 [10], record­ed a decade lat­er and sup­ple­ment­ed [11] on 4/3/2018 [12].

Despite exhaus­tive and per­ilous research done by the likes of Dr. William F. Pep­per, 4/4/2018 was notable for the absence of sub­stan­tive dis­cus­sion of King’s mur­der.

The polit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of such an event was pre­sent­ed by Dr. Pep­per in his third book about the King assas­si­na­tion, The Plot to Kill King [13]” . . . . . . . . When one is con­front­ed with the assas­si­na­tion of a major leader who per­son­i­fies the most trea­sured val­ues of the species and it becomes clear that those respon­si­ble for the mur­der are offi­cials of his own gov­ern­ment act­ing with the sanc­tion of those in the shad­ows who actu­al­ly rule, sure­ly one should strive to under­stand what that means now and for the future. In oth­er words, when the removal of a leader who has offend­ed pow­er­ful forces and spe­cial inter­ests in the Repub­lic takes on the sta­tus of an act of state, cit­i­zens must con­tem­plate what this reveals about their cul­ture and its civ­il and polit­i­cal sys­tems, their free­dom, the qual­i­ty and sta­tus of the rule of law, and their entire way of life. . . . ”

It seems that–for many–black lives mat­ter, but not Dr. King’s, appar­ent­ly, past a point.

Again, Dr. Pep­per not­ed that: ” . . . . cit­i­zens must con­tem­plate what this reveals about their cul­ture and its civ­il and polit­i­cal sys­tems, their free­dom, the qual­i­ty and sta­tus of the rule of law, and their entire way of life. . . . ”

In said con­tem­pla­tion, this pro­gram sup­ple­ments our pre­vi­ous work on the killing.

Although Dr. Pep­per repris­es the stun­ning infor­ma­tion he set forth in Orders to Kill [14] in The Plot to Kill King [13]we will not reprise that here, in the inter­ests of time. (We do recap a short excerpt from Orders to Kill [14] com­pris­ing an appar­ent evi­den­tiary trib­u­tary between King’s mur­der and the assas­si­na­tion of Robert F. Kennedy, which occurred two months lat­er.)

The bulk of the dis­cus­sion in this pro­gram is pre­sen­ta­tion and analy­sis of the polit­i­cal machin­ery in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee that engi­neered Dr. King’s mur­der. (Dis­cus­sion of the Spe­cial Forces team that was in Mem­phis as a back-up unit in case the civil­ian sniper missed King is detailed in FTR #46 [10].)

In Pep­per’s inves­ti­ga­tion of King’s mur­der­ers, he detailed the appar­ent role of the late Rus­sell Lee Adkins, a mem­ber of the Dix­ie Mafia in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. (The Dix­ie Mafia is dis­tinct from the Mafia, per se, that oper­at­ed in the South, although–as Pep­per makes clear–they worked with Mafiosi like New Orleans capo Car­los Mar­cel­lo and Mar­cel­lo asso­ciate Frank Lib­er­to, like Adkins, an oper­a­tor in Mem­phis.) 

His son Rus­sell Jr. took over exec­u­tive man­age­ment of the assas­si­na­tion machin­ery after his father’s death in 1967.

Note the coop­er­a­tion between the Ku Klux Klan and ele­ments of the Masons in Mem­phis. This should NOT be mis­un­der­stood as buy­ing into the myr­i­ad of anti-Mason­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries which have pro­lif­er­at­ed on the Inter­net. The bulk of Freema­son­ry are what they rep­re­sent them­selves as being–civic activists and phil­an­thropists. The Third Reich planned to exter­mi­nate the Masons, along with the Jews and oth­ers.

That hav­ing been said, there have always been net­works with­in the Masons which, due to to their clan­des­tine oper­at­ing struc­ture, have been uti­lized for con­spir­a­to­r­i­al pur­pos­es. In these broad­casts, we have not­ed the P‑2 lodge of Licio Gel­li as one such enti­ty.

The Rus­sell Adkins Klan/Mason nexus is anoth­er. Note Rus­sell Sr.‘s son Ron Adkins depo­si­tion about the deci­sive influ­ence of this insti­tu­tion­al­ly racist enti­ty and its pow­er­ful oper­a­tional con­nec­tions:

  1. It dom­i­nat­ed Mem­phis munic­i­pal pol­i­tics empow­er­ing May­or Hen­ry Loeb and Fire and Police Com­mis­sion­er Frank Hol­lo­man, among oth­ers fig­ur­ing in the mur­der of King.
  2. The Adkins/Klan milieu had long-stand­ing oper­a­tional links with the FBI. Num­ber two man in the bureau at the time, as well as J. Edgar Hoover’s live-in lover, was close to Rus­sell Adkins and used him to dis­pense pay­ments to bureau oper­a­tives, includ­ing the Rev­erend Jesse Jack­son [15].
  3. The Adkins/Klan milieu net­worked with the Mafia, as stat­ed above.
  4. Ron Adkins, Rus­sell Sr.‘s son, deposed under oath that: ” . . . . Ron said that his father took him to his first lynch­ing when he was just six years old. . . .”
  5. The Adkins milieu was close to Dr. Breen Bland, whose alleged role in King’s death is dis­cussed below.

Next, we present the role of the Adkins machine as a con­duit for Hoover and Tol­son’s financ­ing for the escape of pat­sy-to-be James Earl Ray: ” . . . .  [FBI offi­cial Clyde] Tol­son was a sub­stan­tial con­nec­tion for his [Ron­nie Adkins’] father . . . . Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to this case is that he brought the mon­ey which was to be paid to Harold Swen­son, the War­den of the Mis­souri State prison, in Jef­fer­son City, Mis­souri, in order for him to arrange for the escape of James in 1967. At Hoover’s request, James had been pro­filed as a poten­tial scape­goat, although the nature of the crime was not revealed. Ron told us about this assign­ment because he was an actu­al observ­er. He saw the mon­ey being deliv­ered by Tol­son and then, at his father’s invi­ta­tion, he rode to the prison where the mon­ey was paid to Swen­son by his father. . . Ray (who was always kept in the dark about this arrange­ment) suc­cess­ful­ly escaped from prison on April 23, 1967, and then . . . was mon­i­tored, con­trolled . . . . and moved around until the plans for the assas­si­na­tion and his use were final­ized. . . . .”

In the run-up to the assas­si­na­tion of king: ” . . . . In ear­ly 1968, two work­ers, thir­ty-five-year-old Echole Cole and twen­ty-nine-year-old Robert Walk­er were lit­er­al­ly swal­lowed by a mal­func­tion­ing ‘garbage pack­er’ truck. We would lat­er learn this was a planned mur­der by the Dix­ie Mafia fam­i­ly of Rus­sell Adkins, in coor­di­na­tion with Mem­phis Police Depart­ment Direc­tor of Police and Fire Frank Hol­lo­man, in order to com­pel Dr. King to return to sup­port the strik­ers. . . .” 

Sworn depo­si­tions by Lenny Cur­tis (a cus­to­di­an for the Mem­phis Police Depart­ment) and Nathan Whit­lock, a Mem­phis police­man named Frank Strauss­er was the actu­al shoot­er select­ed to exe­cute King: ” . . . . On that day, he [Strauss­er] broke to take lunch with [MPD Cap­tain Earl] Clark, and when he returned he resumed fir­ing. When he left at around 3:30 p.m., he put the top down on the con­vert­ible, took off his pow­der blue shirt, and threw it over the rifle in the back­seat, leav­ing only his white T‑shirt on. He ruf­fled his hair and put on a pair of sun­glass­es. When he left, May­or Loeb, Hol­lo­man, and the oth­er vis­it­ing police offi­cers were still there. They had met in Lieu­tenant Bullard’s office. . . .”

After high­light­ing the alleged role of Frank Strauss­er as the actu­al assas­sin, we present the oper­a­tional sequence of events on the ground in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. Again, note the ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence of the Adkins/Dixie Mafia/Klan machine in the pro­gres­sion of events. ” . . . . Also observed arriv­ing at the MPD fir­ing range build­ing where he met with the shoot­er and Earl Clark were Direc­tor Hol­lo­man and May­or Hen­ry Loeb. . . .”

Note, also, the roles of Jesse Jack­son and the Rev­erend Bil­ly Kyles in these maneu­vers. (As dis­cussed in FTR [15] #1005 [15], both were being paid by FBI offi­cial Clyde Tol­son, through the Adkins machine. Jack­son’s appar­ent role was to help secure Room 306 in the Lor­raine Motel, over­look­ing the pool and afford­ing a clear shot, as well as to maneu­ver the Invaders out of the area. (The Invaders were a local Black Pow­er group who were present for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es.) Kyles was there to help lure King out onto the bal­cony for the kill shot.

After King was shot, he was tak­en to St. Joseph’s hos­pi­tal, where, again the influ­ence of the Adkins machine came into play: ” . . . . . . . . Ron Adkins Tyler, under oath, told me that Dr. Breen Bland, who, remem­ber was also the Adkins’ fam­i­ly doc­tor, was in fact, the head sur­geon at the hos­pi­tal. . . . He said he was present and over­heard con­ver­sa­tions between his father and Dr. Bland, and then, fol­low­ing his father’s death, between his broth­er (Rus­sell Junior), Police and Fire Direc­tor Frank Hol­lo­man, and Dr. Bland about the impor­tance of Dr. King being tak­en to St. Joseph’s if he was still alive. . . . Ron Adkins Tyler has no doubt that they were deter­mined to make cer­tain that Dr. King would nev­er leave the emer­gency room at St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal alive. Though he did not know the details of the final cause of death, it appears that he was cor­rect. . . .”

Next, we focus on events at St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal on 4/4/1968:

  1. Among those events ” . . . . was the large pres­ence of mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers who had tak­en up posi­tions in the hos­pi­tal well before the shot was fired. Accord­ing to Dr. Cause­way, who was on duty at the time, the mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers knew the names of all of the emer­gency room nurs­es and doc­tors on duty. . . .”
  2. The atten­tion giv­en to the grave­ly wound­ed Dr. King: ” . . . . He [Dr. Cause­way] observed that no con­sid­er­a­tion was giv­en to mov­ing the crit­i­cal­ly injured vic­tim to the oper­at­ing room and he saw no sur­gi­cal effort being made to save him. When he inquired about treat­ment, he was told that he was being treat­ed. . . .”
  3. Accord­ing to sur­gi­cal aide Lula Mae Shel­by: ” . . . . there were many MPD offi­cers and army peo­ple milling about, in addi­tion to men in suits. . . . Dr. King was lying on a blood­ied gur­ney. She saw the huge hole in the low­er left side of his face, but heard one of the ER doc­tors say that he has a pulse. The ER doc­tors had per­formed a tra­cheoto­my and insert­ed a breath­ing tube. . . . in a while, the head of surgery (who appears to have been Dr. Breen Bland–the Adkins’ fam­i­ly doc­tor and col­lab­o­ra­tor dis­cussed ear­li­er) came into the emer­gency room with a cou­ple of men in suits and shout­ed at the staff work­ing on Dr. King, ‘Stop work­ing on the nig­ger and let him die. Now, all of you get out of here, right now. Every­body get out.’ . . . . as she was leav­ing, she heard three sounds of the men gath­er­ing or suck­ing up sali­va in their mouths–and then she heard two or three spit­ting sounds. This caused her, on the way out, to glance back over her shoul­der, and see that the breath­ing tube had been removed and Dr. Bland put a pil­low on and over the face of Dr. King. . . .”

After the mur­der, the above-men­tioned Lenny Cur­tis heard rumors about Frank Strauss­er being the assas­sin of King, as well as dis­cus­sion of Strauss­er being pres­sured to leave the MPD because of civ­il rights com­plaints being lodged against him.

Con­cerned that Cur­tis might dis­close infor­ma­tion about him to the FBI, Strauss­er con­front­ed him dur­ing a dri­ve and deliv­ered a warn­ing: ” . . . . ‘Lenny, you be care­ful now.’ The look he gave him was clear­ly threat­en­ing. . . .”

Fol­low­ing this inci­dent, Cur­tis expe­ri­enced strange, fright­en­ing things: ” . . . . . His gas was strange­ly turned on once when he was about to enter his house. He had lit a cig­a­rette, but as he opened the door he smelled gas and quick­ly put out the cig­a­rette. A strange Lin­coln was occa­sion­al­ly parked across the street from his apart­ment house. . . .  One morn­ing when the car was there, he got into his own car and quick­ly drove off, and the strange car pulled out and fol­lowed him. He man­aged to see the dri­ver. It was Strauss­er. At that time, new evi­dence in the case came up. He said that every time new evi­dence arose the offi­cer would pop up. He tried to move to a new house with­out notice but the land­lord of the new com­plex would report see­ing a man in the back of his house. When Lenny checked the area, he found a ‘tree stand,’ a V‑shaped stand where you could rest a rifle. When he put a stick in it, it focused on his kitchen and bath­room win­dows. He moved again, with­out notice. . . .”

Pep­per found Cur­tis to be inspir­ing, wait­ing until after his death in 2013 to come for­ward with his tes­ti­mo­ny out of fear for Lenny’s safe­ty. ” . . . . I safe­guard­ed his infor­ma­tion and his depo­si­tion for all of these years, fear­ful that the assas­s­in’s mas­ters would kill him if they learned about his coop­er­a­tion with me. . . .”

Before con­clud­ing the pro­gram, we revis­it the state­ment of one of the Spe­cial Forces offi­cers com­pris­ing the back-up fire team–a man Pep­per described under the pseu­do­nym “War­ren.” ” . . . .  . . . . War­ren said that on that occa­sion they also had a sec­ondary mis­sion, which was to do recon (recon­nais­sance of a home up in the West­ern Hills near the UCLA cam­pus.) The recon was to deter­mine the fea­si­bil­i­ty of a ‘wet insert ops deter­mined’ oper­a­tion. (‘Wet insert ops deter­mined’ means that the unit car­ries out a sur­rep­ti­tious entry at night into the tar­get­ed res­i­dence, kills every­one there, and leaves with­out a trace.)  He said that their recon deter­mined the fea­si­bil­i­ty of such an oper­a­tion. War­ren sub­se­quent­ly learned that the house was used by Sen­a­tor Robert F. Kennedy when he was in Los Ange­les in 1967–68. . . .”

We end the pro­gram with a caveat deliv­ered to for­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Wal­ter Faun­troy [of Wash­ing­ton D.C.]–a founder of the Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus. After inform­ing then Speak­er of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Carl Albert that he wished to head what was to become the House Select Com­mit­tee on Assas­si­na­tions: ” . . . . Albert said to him, ‘Wal­ter, you don’t want that job.’ To which Faun­troy replied, ‘But I do want it; why not?’ Albert whis­pered, ‘Wal­ter, they will kill you.’ . . .”

1.  The pro­gram begins with Dr. Pep­per’s encap­su­la­tion of the sig­nif­i­cance of King’s assas­si­na­tion:

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; pp. xxx-xxxi. [13]

. . . . When one is con­front­ed with the assas­si­na­tion of a major leader who per­son­i­fies the most trea­sured val­ues of the species and it becomes clear that those respon­si­ble for the mur­der are offi­cials of his own gov­ern­ment act­ing with the sanc­tion of those in the shad­ows who actu­al­ly rule, sure­ly one should strive to under­stand what that means now and for the future. In oth­er words, when the removal of a leader who has offend­ed pow­er­ful forces and spe­cial inter­ests in the Repub­lic takes on the sta­tus of an act of state, cit­i­zens must con­tem­plate what this reveals about their cul­ture and its civ­il and polit­i­cal sys­tems, their free­dom, the qual­i­ty and sta­tus of the rule of law, and their entire way of life. . . . 

2. The bulk of the dis­cus­sion in this pro­gram is pre­sen­ta­tion and analy­sis of the polit­i­cal machin­ery in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee that engi­neered Dr. King’s mur­der. (Dis­cus­sion of the Spe­cial Forces team that was in Mem­phis as a back-up unit in case the civil­ian sniper missed King is detailed in FTR #46 [10].)

In Pep­per’s inves­ti­ga­tion of King’s mur­der­ers, he detailed the appar­ent role of the late Rus­sell Lee Adkins, a mem­ber of the Dix­ie Mafia in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. (The Dix­ie Mafia is dis­tinct from the Mafia, per se, that oper­at­ed in the South, although–as Pep­per makes clear–they worked with Mafiosi like New Orleans capo Car­los Mar­cel­lo and Mar­cel­lo asso­ciate Frank Lib­er­to, like Adkins, an oper­a­tor in Mem­phis.) 

His son Rus­sell Jr. took over exec­u­tive man­age­ment of the assas­si­na­tion machin­ery after his father’s death in 1967.

Note the coop­er­a­tion between the Ku Klux Klan and ele­ments of the Masons in Mem­phis. This should NOT be mis­un­der­stood as buy­ing into the myr­i­ad of anti-Mason­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries which have pro­lif­er­at­ed on the Inter­net. The bulk of Freema­son­ry are what they rep­re­sent them­selves as being–civic activists and phil­an­thropists. The Third Reich planned to exter­mi­nate the Masons, along with the Jews and oth­ers.

That hav­ing been said, there have always been net­works with­in the Masons which, due to to their clan­des­tine oper­at­ing struc­ture, have been uti­lized for con­spir­a­to­r­i­al pur­pos­es. In these broad­casts, we have not­ed the P‑2 lodge of Licio Gel­li as one such enti­ty.

The Rus­sell Adkins Klan/Mason nexus is anoth­er. Note the deci­sive influ­ence of this insti­tu­tion­al­ly racist enti­ty and its pow­er­ful oper­a­tional con­nec­tions:

  1. It dom­i­nat­ed Mem­phis munic­i­pal pol­i­tics empow­er­ing May­or Hen­ry Loeb and Fire and Police Com­mis­sion­er Frank Hol­lo­man, among oth­ers fig­ur­ing in the mur­der of King.
  2. The Adkins/Klan milieu had long-stand­ing oper­a­tional links with the FBI. Num­ber two man in the bureau at the time, as well as J. Edgar Hoover’s live-in lover, was close to Rus­sell Adkins and used him to dis­pense pay­ments to bureau oper­a­tives, includ­ing the Rev­erend Jesse Jack­son [15].
  3. The Adkins/Klan milieu net­worked with the Mafia, as stat­ed above.
  4. Ron Adkins, Rus­sell Sr.‘s son, deposed under oath that: ” . . . . Ron said that his father took him to his first lynch­ing when he was just six years old. . . .”
  5. The Adkins milieu was close to Dr. Breen Bland, whose alleged role in King’s death is dis­cussed below.

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 239. [13]

. . . . He [Ron Adkins, son of Rus­sell Lee Adkins] said his father and asso­ciates were life­long active Klan mem­bers and Masons. He sat in on meet­ings and recalled that his father said they would only have doc­tors who were Catholics, because they would nev­er tell about what was going on. It is for this rea­son that he only remem­bers Dr.‘s Breen and Basil Bland tak­ing care of their fam­i­ly, espe­cial­ly Breen, who was clos­est to them.

His father became a 32nd Degree Mason. The Klan and the Masons worked close­ly togeth­er. Ron said that his father took him to his first lynch­ing when he was just six years old.

His father and grand­fa­ther got along well with Boss E.H. Crump, who ran Mem­phis. From the age of five until he was nine years old, his father took him along to meet­ings in the house and else­where. He would end up bring­ing cof­fee and dough­nuts and sit around lis­ten­ing. he remem­bers John Wilder before he became Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, attend­ing along with May­or Hen­ry Loeb and Frank Lib­er­to, Car­los Mar­cel­lo and Clyde Tol­son, FBI direc­tor Edgar Hoover’s deputy.

Despite his father’s mod­est posi­tion, he had an enor­mous abil­i­ty to get things done behind the scenes. He was a “fix­er.” This pow­er clear­ly emanat­ed from his posi­tions in the Masons, the Klan and the Dix­ie Mafia.

Accord­ing to Ron­nie, the Klan and the Masons had dif­fer­ent styles. The Klans­men were the heav­ies and the Masons were more sub­tle. Togeth­er, they put May­or Loeb into office. . . . 

3. Next, we present the role of the Adkins machine as a con­duit for Hoover and Tol­son’s financ­ing for the escape of pat­sy-to-be James Earl Ray: ” . . . . . . . . [FBI offi­cial Clyde] Tol­son was a sub­stan­tial con­nec­tion for his [Ron­nie Adkins’] father . . . . Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to this case is that he brought the mon­ey which was to be paid to Harold Swen­son, the War­den of the Mis­souri State prison, in Jef­fer­son City, Mis­souri, in order for him to arrange for the escape of James in 1967. At Hoover’s request, James had been pro­filed as a poten­tial scape­goat, although the nature of the crime was not revealed. Ron told us about this assign­ment because he was an actu­al observ­er. He saw the mon­ey being deliv­ered by Tol­son and then, at his father’s invi­ta­tion, he rode to the prison where the mon­ey was paid to Swen­son by his father. . . Ray (who was always kept in the dark about this arrange­ment) suc­cess­ful­ly escaped from prison on April 23, 1967, and then . . . was mon­i­tored, con­trolled . . . . and moved around until the plans for the assas­si­na­tion and his use were final­ized. . . . .”

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 240. [13]

. . . . [FBI offi­cial Clyde] Tol­son was a sub­stan­tial con­nec­tion for his [Ron­nie Adkins’] father . . . . Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to this case is that he brought the mon­ey which was to be paid to Harold Swen­son, the War­den of the Mis­souri State prison, in Jef­fer­son City, Mis­souri, in order for him to arrange for the escape of James in 1967. At Hoover’s request, James had been pro­filed as a poten­tial scape­goat, although the nature of the crime was not revealed. Ron told us about this assign­ment because he was an actu­al observ­er. He saw the mon­ey being deliv­ered by Tol­son and then, at his father’s invi­ta­tion, he rode to the prison where the mon­ey was paid to Swen­son by his father. This took place in Novem­ber or Decem­ber of 1966. Ray (who was always kept in the dark about this arrange­ment) suc­cess­ful­ly escaped from prison on April 23, 1967, and then (with the wrong fin­ger­prints released) was mon­i­tored, con­trolled, giv­en the pro­tect­ed “Galt” iden­ti­ty, and moved around until the plans for the assas­si­na­tion and his use were final­ized. I came to under­stand that this use of inmates was not an uncom­mon prac­tice. . . .

4. In the run-up to the assas­si­na­tion of king: ” . . . . In ear­ly 1968, two work­ers, thir­ty-five-year-old Echole Cole and twen­ty-nine-year-old Robert Walk­er were lit­er­al­ly swal­lowed by a mal­func­tion­ing ‘garbage pack­er’ truck. We would lat­er learn this was a planned mur­der by the Dix­ie Mafia fam­i­ly of Rus­sell Adkins, in coor­di­na­tion with Mem­phis Police Depart­ment Direc­tor of Police and Fire Frank Hol­lo­man, in order to com­pel Dr. King to return to sup­port the strik­ers. . . .” 

   The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 3. [13]

. . . . In ear­ly 1968, two work­ers, thir­ty-five-year-old Echole Cole and twen­ty-nine-year-old Robert Walk­er were lit­er­al­ly swal­lowed by a mal­func­tion­ing “garbage pack­er” truck. We would lat­er learn this was a planned mur­der by the Dix­ie Mafia fam­i­ly of Rus­sell Adkins, in coor­di­na­tion with Mem­phis Police Depart­ment Direc­tor of Police and Fire Frank Hol­lo­man, in order to com­pel Dr. King to return to sup­port the strik­ers. . . . 

5. Sworn depo­si­tions by Lenny Cur­tis (a cus­to­di­an for the Mem­phis Police Depart­ment) and Nathan Whit­lock, a Mem­phis police­man named Frank Strauss­er was the actu­al shoot­er select­ed to exe­cute King: ” . . . . On that day, he [Strauss­er] broke to take lunch with [MPD Cap­tain Earl] Clark, and when he returned he resumed fir­ing. When he left at around 3:30 p.m., he put the top down on the con­vert­ible, took off his pow­der blue shirt, and threw it over the rifle in the back­seat, leav­ing only his white T‑shirt on. He ruf­fled his hair and put on a pair of sun­glass­es. When he left, May­or Loeb, Hol­lo­man, and the oth­er vis­it­ing police offi­cers were still there. They had met in Lieu­tenant Bullard’s office. . . .”

   The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 227. [13]

. . . . Going back to the fir­ing range on the day of the killing, Lenny described the rifle as being brand-new. He said it was, ” . . . a strange look­ing rifle, but it made a tremen­dous noise every time he was shoot­ing down there. . . . He spent time with it all the day.” On that day, he broke to take lunch with [MPD Cap­tain Earl] Clark, and when he returned he resumed fir­ing. When he left at around 3:30 p.m., he put the top down on the con­vert­ible, took off his pow­der blue shirt, and threw it over the rifle in the back­seat, leav­ing only his white T‑shirt on. He ruf­fled his hair and put on a pair of sun­glass­es. When he left, May­or Loeb, Hol­lo­man, and the oth­er vis­it­ing police offi­cers were still there. They had met in Lieu­tenant Bullard’s office. . . .

6. After high­light­ing the alleged role of Frank Strauss­er as the actu­al assas­sin, we present the oper­a­tional sequence of events on the ground in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. Again, note the ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence of the Adkins/Dixie Mafia/Klan machine in the pro­gres­sion of events. ” . . . . Also observed arriv­ing at the MPD fir­ing range build­ing where he met with the shoot­er and Earl Clark were Direc­tor Hol­lo­man and May­or Hen­ry Loeb. . . .”

Note, also, the roles of Jesse Jack­son and the Rev­erend Bil­ly Kyles in these maneu­vers. (As dis­cussed in FTR [15] #1005 [15], both were being paid by FBI offi­cial Clyde Tol­son, through the Adkins machine. Jack­son’s appar­ent role was to help secure Room 306 in the Lor­raine Motel, over­look­ing the pool and afford­ing a clear shot, as well as to maneu­ver the Invaders out of the area. (The Invaders were a local Black Pow­er group who were present for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es.) Kyles was there to help lure King out onto the bal­cony for the kill shot.

Ralph Aber­nathy’s behav­ior is also worth scru­ti­niz­ing. He, too, seemed fix­at­ed on secur­ing Room 306 for King and lied about that room hav­ing been used before.

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; pp. 279–280. [13]

. . . . When Dr. King returned to Mem­phis, he went straight to the Lor­raine Motel. He had nev­er stayed there overnight before, pre­fer­ring to stay in oth­er, pre­vi­ous­ly all-white hotels, although he had held meet­ings with local com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers dur­ing the day at the Lor­raine.

When they arrived, he and Aber­nathy were giv­en room 306, although they were orig­i­nal­ly to have occu­pied room 202, a ground-floor, shel­tered room. Jesse Jack­son was tasked with get­ting Wal­ter and Lurlee Bai­ley to move him to the upper exposed room. The evi­dence from Ron Tyler Adkins indi­cates that he did so. Despite Ralph Aber­nathy’s insis­tence that room 306 was their usu­al room, and indeed, that they had been forced to wait for it to be vacat­ed upon their arrival, it had nev­er been their room before (not even for the day­time meet­ings and cer­tain­ly not for overnight stays). Fur­ther­more, it was vacant–and unoc­cu­pied when they arrived and so they were able to go direct­ly to it.

Rus­sell Adkins Sr. died in July 1967, and his son Rus­sell Jr. took over the assas­si­na­tion project. In fact, I have come to believe that Frank Hol­lo­man him­self arranged and facil­i­tat­ed the final details. Hol­lo­man reg­u­lar­ly attend­ed the Adkins’ meet­ings, com­ing out every Sun­day, and orga­nized the with­draw­al of the two black fire­men from the fire sta­tion and removal of black com­mu­ni­ty rela­tions offi­cer, Ed Red­ditt, from his post. He also had removed the usu­al group of black police offi­cers who always pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty for Dr. King in Mem­phis. They were replaced by a group of white offi­cers who were not trust­ed and so remained out of the pic­ture.

Rev­erend Bil­ly Kyles (at whose home the SCLC group was to have had a bar­be­cue that evening) appears to have been giv­en the respon­si­bil­i­ty for get­ting Dr. King out onto the bal­cony (the MPD report by Willie B. Rich­mond states that, con­trary to Kyles’s long­time asser­tions, he knocked on the door at 5:50 p.m., spoke for a few sec­onds, and then walked away down the bal­cony, stand­ing at the rail­ing about forty to fifty feet away until the shoot­ing.) The Rev­erend Jesse Jack­son orga­nized the with­draw­al of the Invaders from the motel around twen­ty min­utes before the killing, where they had been work­ing with Dr. King to bring about a peace­ful march.

As not­ed else­where, the shoot­er, Strauss­er, was observed receiv­ing a “spe­cial” rifle at the MPD shoot­ing range the day before the killing, and then break­ing it in by prac­tice fir­ing it most of that day and the next (tak­ing a lunch break with Cap­tain Earl Clark on April 4), before leav­ing in the red and white Chevro­let con­vert­ible of his fire­man friend. Before leav­ing, he put the rifle in the back­seat and took off his shirt, wear­ing only an under­shirt and ruf­fling up his hair so that he would look more like an off-duty fire­man than a police offi­cer and sped off.

Also observed arriv­ing at the MPD fir­ing range build­ing where he met with the shoot­er and Earl Clark were Direc­tor Hol­lo­man and May­or Hen­ry Loeb. . . .

7. After King was shot, he was tak­en to St. Joseph’s hos­pi­tal, where, again the influ­ence of the Adkins machine came into play: ” . . . . . . . . Ron Adkins Tyler, under oath, told me that Dr. Breen Bland, who, remem­ber was also the Adkins’ fam­i­ly doc­tor, was in fact, the head sur­geon at the hos­pi­tal. . . . He said he was present and over­heard con­ver­sa­tions between his father and Dr. Bland, and then, fol­low­ing his father’s death, between his broth­er (Rus­sell Junior), Police and Fire Direc­tor Frank Hol­lo­man, and Dr. Bland about the impor­tance of Dr. King being tak­en to St. Joseph’s if he was still alive. . . . Ron Adkins Tyler has no doubt that they were deter­mined to make cer­tain that Dr. King would nev­er leave the emer­gency room at St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal alive. Though he did not know the details of the final cause of death, it appears that he was cor­rect. . . .”

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 262. [13]

. . . . Ron Adkins Tyler, under oath, told me that Dr. Breen Bland, who, remem­ber was also the Adkins’ fam­i­ly doc­tor, was in fact, the head sur­geon at the hos­pi­tal. His med­ical office was about fifty yards from the hos­pi­tal. He said he was present and over­heard con­ver­sa­tions between his father and Dr. Bland, and then, fol­low­ing his father’s death, between his broth­er (Rus­sell Junior), Police and Fire Direc­tor Frank Hol­lo­man, and Dr. Bland about the impor­tance of Dr. King being tak­en to St. Joseph’s if he was still alive. Ron recalls that Dr. Bland was pre­pared to give him a cer­tain lethal injec­tion if it became nec­es­sary. He said that the last con­ver­sa­tion took place around the mid­dle of March 1968, just weeks before the assas­si­na­tion.

From what John Shel­by recalls his moth­er say­ing, the removal of the breath­ing tube and the use of the pil­low replaced the fatal injec­tion. 

Ron Adkins Tyler has no doubt that they were deter­mined to make cer­tain that Dr. King would nev­er leave the emer­gency room at St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal alive. Though he did not know the details of the final cause of death, it appears that he was cor­rect. . . .

8. Next, we focus on events at St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal on 4/4/1968:

  1. Among those events ” . . . . was the large pres­ence of mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers who had tak­en up posi­tions in the hos­pi­tal well before the shot was fired. Accord­ing to Dr. Cause­way, who was on duty at the time, the mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers knew the names of all of the emer­gency room nurs­es and doc­tors on duty. . . .”
  2. The atten­tion giv­en to the grave­ly wound­ed Dr. King: ” . . . . He [Dr. Cause­way] observed that no con­sid­er­a­tion was giv­en to mov­ing the crit­i­cal­ly injured vic­tim to the oper­at­ing room and he saw no sur­gi­cal effort being made to save him. When he inquired about treat­ment, he was told that he was being treat­ed. . . .”
  3. Accord­ing to sur­gi­cal aide Lula Mae Shel­by: ” . . . . there were many MPD offi­cers and army peo­ple milling about, in addi­tion to men in suits. . . . Dr. King was lying on a blood­ied gur­ney. She saw the huge hole in the low­er left side of his face, but heard one of the ER doc­tors say that he has a pulse. The ER doc­tors had per­formed a tra­cheoto­my and insert­ed a breath­ing tube. . . . in a while, the head of surgery (who appears to have been Dr. Breen Bland–the Adkins’ fam­i­ly doc­tor and col­lab­o­ra­tor dis­cussed ear­li­er) came into the emer­gency room with a cou­ple of men in suits and shout­ed at the staff work­ing on Dr. King, ‘Stop work­ing on the nig­ger and let him die. Now, all of you get out of here, right now. Every­body get out.’ . . . . as she was leav­ing, she heard three sounds of the men gath­er­ing or suck­ing up sali­va in their mouths–and then she heard two or three spit­ting sounds. This caused her, on the way out, to glance back over her shoul­der, and see that the breath­ing tube had been removed and Dr. Bland put a pil­low on and over the face of Dr. King. . . .”

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; pp. 260–261. [13]

. . . . With all these events going on in close prox­im­i­ty, the ambu­lance car­ry­ing the wound­ed Dr. King, Dr. Aber­nathy, and Bernard Lee, set out for St. Joseph’s hos­pi­tal at approx­i­mate­ly 6:10 p.m. Some five min­utes lat­er it arrived at the hos­pi­tal and Dr. King, still breath­ing and alive, was car­ried into the emer­gency room just after 6:15 p.m., where one would expect that work would begin in a fran­tic effort to save his life.

What has nev­er been sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly explained, or per­haps even revealed, until now, was the large pres­ence of mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers who had tak­en up posi­tions in the hos­pi­tal well before the shot was fired. Accord­ing to Dr. Cause­way, who was on duty at the time, the mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers knew the names of all of the emer­gency room nurs­es and doc­tors on duty. 

He observed that no con­sid­er­a­tion was giv­en to mov­ing the crit­i­cal­ly injured vic­tim to the oper­at­ing room and he saw no sur­gi­cal effort being made to save him. When he inquired about treat­ment, he was told that he was being treat­ed.

Anoth­er per­son on duty in the emer­gency room that evening was thir­ty-two-year-old sur­gi­cal aide Lula Mae Shel­by who had worked at the hos­pi­tal since 1964 or 1965. 

Her son, John­ton Shel­by . . .  told me, and sub­se­quent­ly con­firmed under oath (see Appen­dix N for a tran­script of his depo­si­tion), that she was not allowed to go home that evening or even call home. . . . In 2013,  John­ton called Mem­phis radio sta­tion WPLX host­ed by Thad­deus Matthews to tell his moth­er’s sto­ry. My long­time Mem­phis street friend, Jack­ie Smith, called me and facil­i­tat­ed my con­tact with him. John­ton said when his moth­er arrived home the next morn­ing (April 5), just before 11:00 a.m., she gath­ered the fam­i­ly in the liv­ing room to tell them what had hap­pened. She was dev­as­tat­ed and very hurt. He remem­bered clear­ly that she said, “I can’t believe they took his life.”

At first glance, what a strange state­ment.

She recalled that there were many MPD offi­cers and army peo­ple milling about, in addi­tion to men in suits.

She said that she was bring­ing med­ical instru­ments in and out of the emer­gency room–which was her job–where Dr. King was lying on a blood­ied gur­ney. She saw the huge hole in the low­er left side of his face, but heard one of the ER doc­tors say that he has a pulse. The ER doc­tors had per­formed a tra­cheoto­my and insert­ed a breath­ing tube.

She said that in a while, the head of surgery (who appears to have been Dr. Breen Bland–the Adkins’ fam­i­ly doc­tor and col­lab­o­ra­tor dis­cussed ear­li­er) came into the emer­gency room with a cou­ple of men in suits and shout­ed at the staff work­ing on Dr. King, “Stop work­ing on the nig­ger and let him die. Now, all of you get out of here, right now. Every­body get out.”

John­ton said that his moth­er told them as she was leav­ing, she heard three sounds of the men gath­er­ing or suck­ing up sali­va in their mouths–and then she heard two or three spit­ting sounds. This caused her, on the way out, to glance back over her shoul­der, and see that the breath­ing tube had been removed and Dr. Bland put a pil­low on and over the face of Dr. King. She said that she believed that he was still alive, how­ev­er bare­ly. With­out a doubt, if he was alive–as he appeared to be–he would have been suf­fo­cat­ed.

John­ton Shel­by repeat­ed his full rec­ol­lec­tion of his moth­er’s heart­felt dis­clo­sures under oath in a depo­si­tion I took of him in July 2014 (see Appen­dix N). . . .

9. After the mur­der, the above-men­tioned Lenny Cur­tis heard rumors about Frank Strauss­er being the assas­sin of King, as well as dis­cus­sion of Strauss­er being pres­sured to leave the MPD because of civ­il rights com­plaints being lodged against him.

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 227. [13]

. . . . After the assas­si­na­tion, he [Lenny Cur­tis] heard rumors from var­i­ous MPD offi­cers with whom he was friend­ly that this offi­cer was the rifle­man who killed Dr. King. Cur­tis said he was told after the assas­si­na­tion that the offi­cer was asked to leave the MPD and he refused to quit. It appeared that they want­ed him to go because he was increas­ing­ly dis­obe­di­ent and a poten­tial embar­rass­ment with a grow­ing num­ber of civ­il rights com­plaints being lodged against him. The offi­cer report­ed­ly told the direc­tor, he would, ” . . . . blow his ass off–he’d shoot every one of them up there.” . . . .

10. Con­cerned that Cur­tis might dis­close infor­ma­tion about him to the FBI, Strauss­er con­front­ed him dur­ing a dri­ve and deliv­ered a warn­ing: ” . . . . ‘Lenny, you be care­ful now.’ The look he gave him was clear­ly threat­en­ing. . . .”

Fol­low­ing this inci­dent, Cur­tis expe­ri­enced strange, fright­en­ing things: ” . . . . . His gas was strange­ly turned on once when he was about to enter his house. He had lit a cig­a­rette, but as he opened the door he smelled gas and quick­ly put out the cig­a­rete. A strange Lin­coln was occa­sion­al­ly parked across the street from his apart­ment house. . . .  One morn­ing when the car was there, he got into his own car and quick­ly drove off, and the strange cr pulled out and fol­lowed him. He man­aged to see the dri­ver. It was Strauss­er. At that time, new evi­dence in the case came up. He said that every time new evi­dence arose the offi­cer would pop up. He tried to move to a new house with­out notice but the land­lord of the new com­plex would report see­ing a man in the back of his house. When Lenny checked the area, he found a ‘tree stand,’ a V‑shaped stand where you could rest a rifle. When he put a stick in it, it focused on his kitchen and bath­room win­dows. He moved again, with­out notice. . . .”

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; pp. 226–227. [13]

. . . . They made small talk, but when they got to Poplar and North Park­way, instead of stay­ing on Poplar and going straight into town, which would have been the most direct route, [Frank] Strauss­er slowed down and said, “Lenny, I want to ask you a ques­tion. What do you think about that guy Ray killing King?” 

Lenny said, “Oh, he did it. There is no doubt that he did it.”

Then Strauss­er asked him, ” . . . . are you still doing pri­vate detec­tive work, still work­ing with those FBIs?” Lenny was doing part-time work for a pri­vate detec­tive agency. He had a job doing secu­ri­ty work and occa­sion­al­ly some FBI agents would bring want­ed posters to him. He actu­al­ly helped them arrest one guy whom he rec­og­nized. He would also help by dis­trib­ut­ing them to stores around his com­mu­ni­ty and a num­ber of oth­ers were caught. Strauss­er seemed to know about the side­line. The last thing he said to him was, “Are you still help­ing the FBI?”

Lenny said, “Yeah, peri­od­i­cal­ly.”

He then said, “Lenny, you be care­ful now.” The look he gave him was clear­ly threat­en­ing.

Lenny said that he sub­se­quent­ly became aware that strange things were hap­pen­ing around him. His gas was strange­ly turned on once when he was about to enter his house. He had lit a cig­a­rette, but as he opened the door he smelled gas and quick­ly put out the cig­a­rete. A strange Lin­coln was occa­sion­al­ly parked across the street from his apart­ment house. He was fright­ened. One morn­ing when the car was there, he got into his own car and quick­ly drove off, and the strange cr pulled out and fol­lowed him. He man­aged to see the dri­ver. It was Strauss­er.

At that time, new evi­dence in the case came up. He said that every time new evi­dence arose the offi­cer would pop up. He tried to move to a new house with­out notice but the land­lord of the new com­plex would report see­ing a man in the back of his house. When Lenny checked the area, he found a “tree stand,” a V‑shaped stand where you could rest a rifle. When he put a stick in it, it focused on his kitchen and bath­room win­dows. He moved again, with­out notice. . . .

11. Pep­per found Cur­tis to be inspir­ing, wait­ing until after his death in 2013 to come for­ward with his tes­ti­mo­ny out of fear for Lenny’s safe­ty. ” . . . . I safe­guard­ed his infor­ma­tion and his depo­si­tion for all of these years, fear­ful that the assas­s­in’s mas­ters would kill him if they learned about his coop­er­a­tion with me. . . .”

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 228. [13]

. . . . The courage of this hum­ble work­ing-class human stal­wart has both inspired and com­pelled me, now eleven years lat­er in 2014, to press on in hon­or of the endur­ing vital­i­ty of the human spir­it and its quest for truth. Once again, we are hum­bled by the nobil­i­ty of one who mate­ri­al­ly is among the least of us, but whose reign­ing pres­ence and val­ues, in spite of who we are, remind us who we could become.

Lenny Cur­tis died in Novem­ber of 2013. I safe­guard­ed his infor­ma­tion and his depo­si­tion for all of these years, fear­ful that the assas­s­in’s mas­ters would kill him if they learned about his coop­er­a­tion with me.

Now that Lenny is beyond their reach, there is no rea­son why all that he has giv­en up can­not now be shared. As not­ed above, his com­plete depo­si­tion may be seen in Appen­dix F. . . . .

12. Before con­clud­ing the pro­gram, we revis­it the state­ment of one of the Spe­cial Forces offi­cers com­pris­ing the back-up fire team–a man Pep­per described under the pseu­do­nym “War­ren.” ” . . . .  . . . . War­ren said that on that occa­sion they also had a sec­ondary mis­sion, which was to do recon (recon­nais­sance of a home up in the West­ern Hills near the UCLA cam­pus.) The recon was to deter­mine the fea­si­bil­i­ty of a ‘wet insert ops deter­mined’ oper­a­tion. (‘Wet insert ops deter­mined’ means that the unit car­ries out a sur­rep­ti­tious entry at night into the tar­get­ed res­i­dence, kills every­one there, and leaves with­out a trace.)  He said that their recon deter­mined the fea­si­bil­i­ty of such an oper­a­tion. War­ren sub­se­quent­ly learned that the house was used by Sen­a­tor Robert F. Kennedy when he was in Los Ange­les in 1967–68. . . .”

 Orders to Kill by William F. Pep­per; Car­roll & Graf Pub­lish­ers, Inc. [HC]; Copy­right 1995 by  William F. Pep­per; ISBN 0–7867-0253–2; p. 419. [14]

 . . . . War­ren said that on that occa­sion they also had a sec­ondary mis­sion, which was to do recon (recon­nais­sance of a home up in the West­ern Hills near the UCLA cam­pus.) The recon was to deter­mine the fea­si­bil­i­ty of a “wet insert ops deter­mined” oper­a­tion. (“Wet insert ops deter­mined” means that the unit car­ries out a sur­rep­ti­tious entry at night into the tar­get­ed res­i­dence, kills every­one there, and leaves with­out a trace.)  He said that their recon deter­mined the fea­si­bil­i­ty of such an oper­a­tion. War­ren sub­se­quent­ly learned that the house was used by Sen­a­tor Robert F. Kennedy when he was in Los Ange­les in 1967–68. (Short­ly after the recon, Kennedy would declare for the Pres­i­den­cy.) . . . .

13. We con­clude with a caveat deliv­ered to for­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Wal­ter Faun­troy [of Wash­ing­ton D.C.]–a founder of the Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus. After inform­ing then Speak­er of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Carl Albert that he wished to head what was to become the House Select Com­mit­tee on Assas­si­na­tions: ” . . . . Albert said to him, ‘Wal­ter, you don’t want that job.’ To which Faun­troy replied, ‘But I do want it; why not?’ Albert whis­pered, ‘Wal­ter, they will kill you.’ . . .”

The Plot to Kill King by William Pep­per; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 2016 by William Pep­per; ISBN 978–1‑5107–2962‑9; p. 62. [13]

. . . . Faun­troy informed Carl Albert, then Speak­er of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, that he want­ed to be  on a com­mit­tee to inves­ti­gate Dr. King’s death or even, if pos­si­ble, to head the com­mit­tee. Albert said to him, “Wal­ter, you don’t want that job.”

To which Faun­troy replied, “But I do want it; why not?”

Albert whis­pered, “Wal­ter, they will kill you. . . .”