Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Scope Of Things Today

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Certain key components cannot just be randomly removed from your life. You must decide what you want to see the back of and what you want to hang on to. Only then will you turn a problem around so it works in your favour.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Progress will come concerning certain material issues once you simplify an idea, settle on a plan and sort out your uncertainty. Catch the bold energy of today's Aries moon and you will make progress.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Whether the aim is to make us buy something or to vote for somebody, we are all heavily influenced by media marketing. Careful you don't rush into something that has been craftily sold to you.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Sometimes, progress can be achieved only through turmoil. Certain difficult things have to happen now so that, later, certain other much more desirable things can come about. A short stumble through brambles will lead to the treasure you seek.

How Toronto concealed King's killer
Before his death, James Earl Ray revealed fascinating details of his fugitive tour of Toronto
April 05, 2008

Staff Reporter

Forty years ago, after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, America's most wanted man was en route to Toronto.

James Earl Ray hid in rooming houses on Ossington Ave. and Dundas St. West. for nearly a month.

He had been staying in a Memphis flophouse across from the Lorraine Motel – where King was killed that fateful April 4, 1968 – and fled fearing he was set up by a roommate.

Fifteen years ago, as journalists at the Ottawa Sun, photographer Jeff Bassett and I interviewed Ray in Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Institution to mark the 25th anniversary of King's death.

The career criminal spoke about his time in Toronto; because we worked for an Ottawa newspaper his observations about the city were not published.

Here, some long-standing myths about Ray's sojourn are debunked.

Ray went to his grave in 1998 insisting he pleaded guilty to the murder under duress. He always maintained his innocence, a belief shared by King's family and civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with King at the motel. Many feel he was a patsy in a larger conspiracy.

After a wrongful death suit filed by the Kings in 1999, a Tennessee jury concluded now-dead racist Memphis café owner Loyd Jowers hatched the scheme.

In a strange way, it is unsurprising Ray ended up in Canada, his haven after escaping from Missouri State Penitentiary, where he had been serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery, in 1967.

Ray claimed he was driving his yellow 1966 Ford Mustang in Memphis – where he was part of a gun-running scheme with a smuggler named Raoul he'd met in Montreal during Expo 67 – when he heard of King's shooting on the car radio.

Ray possessed a heightened alertness and rat-like cunning that could only belong to an escaped convict. Fearing Raoul had set him up – the pair had been staying above Jowers' restaurant, overlooking the crime scene – he fled for Atlanta. There, he boarded a Greyhound bus for Detroit and, using the alias Eric S. Galt, hopped in a cab across the border to Windsor, where he caught a train for Toronto's Union Station.

"I got to Toronto pretty late in the day (on April 6, 1968). It was 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Then I started walking and trying to find a room and I walked quite a while until I found this Ossington St. address," he said.

"I went in and this Polish lady in there, they couldn't hardly speak English. So I rented a room off them. I don't think I even gave them a name that time."

Even though he was more familiar with Montreal, having spent the previous summer there at Expo, robbing brothels and rolling tourists, Ray felt Toronto was a better bet.

"I really like the French section of Canada, it's more like a European country. I guess I could have went there. I was just trying to get a passport and probably I think I'd have an easier time getting a passport in Toronto than Montreal (because) it's English speaking and all of that."

The plan was to fly to Europe and finally Africa, where he felt he could earn a living as a mercenary.

Because he could not hide all day on Ossington without arousing suspicion from his landlady, Ray also rented a room for $9 a week from Yee Sun Loo around the corner on Dundas St. West.

"I stayed at Ossington at nighttime and told the lady I was working daytime and I stayed with the Chinese lady and told her I was working nights," he said with a laugh.

"I'd just stay eight hours in one and eight hours in the other. They can get suspicious if you just stay in your room the whole time. I didn't want to hang around in bars too much because I don't drink much."

An enduring falsehood about Ray's stay here is that he frequented the Silver Dollar, an iconic saloon on Spadina Ave.

"I've never heard of that place. There was a bar around the corner from Ossington St., not toward Dundas St., but in the other direction. I think it sat on a corner (at Queen St. W.)," he told me, possibly referring to the Drake Hotel, then a hardscrabble beer hall.

"I'd go there a couple of times and I might watch TV and see if there's anything on the news or anything like that..."

Given he "was in Canada about a week ... when they came out with my real name," keeping a low profile was paramount.

Ray acquired a false birth certificate and Canadian passport by researching old newspapers at the Toronto Telegram on Front St., now home to The Globe and Mail.

One day, after leaving the Telegram, he was stopped by a police officer. "He said I was jaywalking and asked for my name and address," Ray said.

"I'd got an address from a lonely hearts club ... to use as a cover. So I gave him this address from ... Condor (Avenue, near Pape and Danforth). I'd never contacted this woman or anything, but I guessed the police wouldn't check it."

Ray's luck had not yet run out.

"Next day, I called up the police station or substation and asked them about the ticket ... they said there was no jaywalking ticket."

Still, worried the alias was compromised, he burned the identification papers and, using information from the Telegram's birth notices, assumed the names Paul Edward Bridgman and Ramon George Sneyd, the latter, ironically, a Toronto police officer.

In the days before computer databases, Ray easily obtained duplicate birth certificates, using them to secure Canadian passports. Posing as a government clerk, he would phone the men whose identities he was considering stealing and ask about lost passports. If they said they had never applied for one, he would apologize for the misunderstanding then adopt that name. With multiple identities he was able to be his own reference on passport applications.

On April 16, Ray bought a ticket to London for $345 from the Kennedy Travel Bureau on Bloor St. W. in the Annex. But he had to stay in Toronto for almost three more weeks waiting for his passports.

One mystery, first shared with me by former Toronto Daily Star reporter Earl McRae, who covered the story following Ray's arrest, was the identity of a visitor to the Dundas rooming house by someone this newspaper dubbed "the fat man." Because the beefy stranger had delivered a package, the theory in 1968 was he was part of a King assassination conspiracy.

"I really don't know who he was," said Ray. "But what happened was, I think when I went to the phone booth ... about a block down the street ... he got that thing out of the phone booth. It must have had my Dundas St. address on it otherwise he wouldn't have known where to come looking for me."

On May 6, 1968, Ray boarded a flight to London. Following what was then billed as the biggest manhunt in history, he was nabbed at Heathrow Airport on June 8 trying to fly to Belgium.

Thanks to his subsequent confession, James Earl Ray spent the rest of his life as one of an infamous troika of 1960s assassins, with Lee Harvey Oswald, whom authorities say shot John F. Kennedy, and Sirhan Sirhan, Senator Robert F. Kennedy's killer.

"I don't think I have much in common with these others," Ray told me. "I mean, Sirhan, he's Arab from Jordan or wherever and Oswald, he was in politics. Here I am, I'm just involved in criminal activity. I just did dumb things like coming back to the United States from Canada."

No comments:

The Best Online Last Will And Testament Website - Write a will, power of attorney or living will (Click here)
No lawyer required.  Just answer the simple questions to create your legal documents online.
Make updates at any time free of charge.  Lawyer approved, at one-tenth the cost.
Also offers FREE services to create your funeral wishes, last messages and online memorials.

amazon deals 2

Live Face On Web - Most Popular

Oddee - Recently Published/Updated