MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - For the first time a former Memphis police officer is talking about his interview with James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
After Dr. King was killed, conspiracy theories abounded. In the years that followed there was not one, not two, but three official investigations.
During the third in the late 1990's a Memphis police detective sat down face to face with Ray. The truth is, James Earl Ray admitted he was the killer to the investigator.
Retired Major Tim Cook was part of a special task force investigating King's death. In February 1998 he interviewed James Earl Ray in a Nashville prison where Ray was serving a life sentence.
"The interview never would have happened except he sent a letter to us asking for me to interview him," Cook said. "I went through step by step everything that happened, including how he got out of the country, how he made it to England and back, how he ended up getting caught."
"He was real coy," Cook said, "smiling, shaking his head until we got to the part about window and the shot being fired."
That window was in a rooming house across the street from the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King was staying. It was there the fatal shot was fired.
Ray originally pleaded guilty to the crime, but then changed his story saying he was innocent. Cook said during the interview in 1998, Ray finally confessed.
"He admitted right to me he did it and he acted alone," Cook stated. "I think it was a load off his mind. He probably never told anyone but his lawyers, if he even told them he did it."
"He was dying, tired of the lie and didn't want to die in jail."
Ray died in prison two months later.
Cook was wearing a recorder during that interview. When it was over, he handed the tape to the District Attorney's investigator.
At this point no one at the DA's office or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation could find it so we could hear it for ourselves.