King Conspiracy Theory #2

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Federal gov't, Memphis police, Green Berets, and more

by Borgna Brunner

King Conspiracy Theories

William Pepper, Ray's last lawyer, claims that Ray was set up by the U.S. government, who had hired a Mafia hit man to kill King. A team of Green Beret snipers lurked nearby as back up, should the Mafia hit man miss. But the plot by no means stops here: the CIA, the Memphis police, the FBI, and Army intelligence were also involved. As Pepper spells out in his 1995 book, Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, the commando in charge of the Green Beret snipers, Billy Eidson, was then killed off to keep the plot secret.

Not only was a military cablegram Pepper produced declared a forgery, but Green Beret Billy Eidson was found to be alive and well and furious at the allegations that he was involved in the assassination. Also not amused was the 20th Special Forces Group of Alabama, the accused Green Berets. But that didn't stop the paperback version of Pepper's book from being published—in fact, it fortuitously hit the stores the same month that Ray died, no doubt capitalizing on the added publicity.

As astoundingly reckless as Pepper's allegations are, he has convinced the King family of their veracity. On an edition of ABC's Turning Point, June 19, 1997,—the same segment that systematically disproved the key elements of Pepper's story—Coretta Scott King and several of the King children announced their belief in Ray's innocence and the existence of a government plot.

Dexter King maintained that "Army intelligence, CIA, FBI" were responsible for his father's death, and when asked by commentator Forest Sawyer whether he believed "Lyndon Johnson was part of a plot to kill [his] father," he responded, "I do."