A former FBI agent who impounded James Earl Ray's car after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. said Tuesday that he kept two slips of paper from the car that may bolster Ray's claim of a conspiracy.
Donald Wilson discussed the documents with Fulton County Dist. Atty. Paul Howard and later told reporters that he wants to give them directly to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno.
Wilson, then an agent with the FBI office in Atlanta, was one of two agents who impounded Ray's white Ford Mustang at an Atlanta housing project April 10, 1968, six days after King was assassinated in Memphis.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that one of the papers he found is an itemized list of names, locations and figures that appear to be dollar amounts. At the bottom, the figure 450,000 is written along with a date and a word that appears to be Raul.
The other contains a telephone number and the name Raul, the newspaper said. The newspaper did not give any of the other names. Ray, who pleaded guilty in 1969 but then recanted and has been seeking a trial ever since, has claimed that he was set up by a shadowy gunrunner he knew only as Raoul.
Wilson said Tuesday that he came forward not to help Ray but "on behalf of the King family." The family has supported Ray's efforts to win a trial.
Wilson wouldn't say why he withheld the papers or discuss them in any detail. He lives in the Chicago area and said he has the original documents in a vault there.
The Journal-Constitution said Wilson did not pass the documents to his superiors in 1968 because he did not believe that they were conducting a serious investigation and did not trust them.
Wilson was accompanied to the courthouse by William Pepper, an attorney trying to win a trial for Ray. Pepper said he urged Wilson to come forward now because Ray is seriously ill from liver disease and may not live much longer.
In an odd twist, the newspaper said, the telephone number on one of the papers appeared to refer to Jack Ruby. The number is next to a capital J inside a circle. A check of that telephone number in a 1963 Dallas directory indicates it was listed to Ruby and the Vegas Club. Ruby was arrested in 1963 for killing Lee Harvey Oswald.