Loyd Jowers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Loyd Jowers
Born (1926-11-20)November 20, 1926
Died May 20, 2000(2000-05-20) (aged 73)
Union City, Tennessee, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Occupation Owner of Jim's Grill

Loyd Jowers (November 20, 1926[1] – May 20, 2000) was the owner of Jim's Grill, a restaurant near the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. In December 1993, Jowers appeared on ABC's Prime Time Live and related the details of an alleged conspiracy involving the Mafia and the U.S. government to kill King. According to Jowers, James Earl Ray was a scapegoat, and was not involved in the assassination. Jowers said that he hired Memphis police officer Lieutenant Earl Clark to fire the fatal shot.

MLK Jr. assassination allegations[edit]

In a 1993 episode of ABC's Primetime Live, Jowers told reporter Sam Donaldson that he hired someone to kill King as a favor to a friend in the mafia, produce merchant Frank Liberto.[2][3] Jowers said Liberto, who had died prior to the ABC interview, had paid him $100,000 to arrange the assassination.[3] He did not name the person he claimed to have hired, but said it was not Ray.[3]

Wrongful death suit[edit]

In 1998, the King family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jowers and "other unknown co-conspirators" for the murder of King. A Memphis jury found Jowers responsible on December 8, 1999, and that the assassination plot also involved "governmental agencies."[4]

The Memphis county prosecutor said on several occasions that Mr. Jowers' claims were without merit and that he was motivated to sell his story for a book or a movie. Ray's lawyer claimed two sisters who worked at Jowers' restaurant would corroborate Jowers' claim, but both recanted their stories. One sister admitted that Jowers had fabricated the story so he could make $300,000 from selling the story; she in turn corroborated his story in order to get money to pay taxes. In a telephone conversation taped by authorities, Jowers' main witness stated that his story was false. [5][3]

According to the Los Angeles Times, "The trial relied heavily on second- and third-hand accounts, and the judge and jurors were often seen dozing off during testimony." [6] John Campbell, an assistant district attorney in Memphis who was part of the criminal trial against James Earl Ray, said: "I'm not surprised by the verdict. This case overlooked so much contradictory evidence that never was presented, what other option did the jury have but to accept Mr. Pepper's version?"[4]

At a 1999 press conference following this verdict, Coretta Scott King stated that "there is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr... the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame."[7]

Following statements by Dexter King and other family members, Dexter was subsequently asked by a reporter, "there are many people out there who feel that as long as these conspirators remain nameless and faceless there is no true closure, and no justice." He replied:

No, he [Mr. Lloyd Jowers] named the shooter. The shooter was the Memphis Police Department Officer, Lt. Earl Clark who he named as the killer. Once again, beyond that you had credible witnesses that named members of a Special Forces team who didn't have to act because the contract killer succeeded, with plausible denial, a Mafia contracted killer.[7]

Gerald Posner, an investigative journalist who wrote the book Killing the Dream in which he makes the case that Ray is the killer, said after the verdict: "It distresses me greatly that the legal system was used in such a callous and farcical manner in Memphis. If the King family wanted a rubber stamp of their own view of the facts, they got it."[4]


On May 20, 2000, Jowers died of a heart attack at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Union City, Tennessee.[2][8] He was reported to have suffered from lung cancer at the time of his death.[2]


External links[edit]