10.06.

1977: The Man Convicted for the Murder of Martin Luther King Escapes from Prison

1977: The Man Convicted for the Murder of Martin Luther King Escapes from Prison
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 10 June 1977
  • James Earl Ray was serving a 99-year prison sentence because he allegedly killed Martin Luther King with a sniper rifle in 1968. On this day, he escaped from prison along with six other inmates.

On this day, one of the most famous prison escapes in American history took place. The infamous James Earl Ray, convicted of the murder of African American Christian activist Martin Luther King, escaped from the prison along with six other inmates. 

James Earl Ray was serving a 99-year prison sentence because he allegedly, in 1968, killed Martin Luther King with a sniper at a motel in Memphis in Tennessee.

Maximum security prison from which Ray escaped was located in the mountainous area of the state of Tennessee, near the famous Appalachian Mountains. Prisoners jumped the fence and headed into the mountains.

James Earl Ray was arrested three days later with the help of tracking dogs, near the town of New River, after he managed to travel approximately 40 kilometers through the wilderness.

He was returned to prison and his sentence was extended for one additional year, so it reached a full 100 years.

The six other fugitives were also captured, every one of them at a different location. James Earl Ray died in prison 21 years later, at the age of 70, from hepatitis C, which he had contracted via transfusion.

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