The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on June 11, 1968 · Page 1
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June 11, 1968

The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 1

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Blytheville, Arkansas
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Tuesday, June 11, 1968
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Ray: 'He's Psycho' r By HARRY A. HAINE8 COURIER NEWS EDITOR (Copyright 1968 Courier News Co.' Inc.) "He's a small time, pet'ty hood and I don't like him." This is the succinct summation of James Earl Ray by a man who served time with him in the Missouri penitentiary around 1960, This man today again is in prison and is in Arkansas. Law enforcement officials •who thought his story might be interesting made him available to me for an interview. Other details of the man will remain obscure due to the fact that he is certain (as are some authorities) that others are involved in the slaying of Martin Luther King (here assuming that Ray is involved in some way), He does not particularly mind hit comments on Ray being known, but he doesn't want to get involved with party or parties unknown,, said parties obviously quite dangerous. "Ray's what I would call » psychopathic criminal. : "I clown around," the prisoner said, referring to his record of armed robbery, his (and Ray's) worst offense to date, and disturbing the peace. "But this Ray ... he has some idea about making crime a way of life. He's serious about it." Several times during our con. versation, my interviewee referred to Ray as "psycho." "I don't know why you're talking with me," he complained. "I wasn't a close personal friend of his." He went on to paint a picture which would lead you to believe that no one (in the Mis- sburi State Prison at Jefferson City) was a close friend of James Earl Ray. . '•Us convicts called him a loner. "During recreation period, we'd play volley ball, basketball and hand ball. Ray would stand around by himself. "We were afraid of him." The man with whom I was speaking is a good, solid six feet and weighs 185 pounds. He has well musceled forearms and wrists and once played high school football. He's tough'and unafraid. How about Ray? "He was thinner when 1 knew him. He looked small, but he was stronger than you'd think. "Naw, I wasn't afraid of him physically. But he always struck me as more or less an- ti - social, you know, a loner. "I steered clear of him. He was a psycho. He had a dangerous disposition. "But in spite of his lack of physical strength — and he wasn't weak — he was treacherous. You get him good and mad and let him get behind you: he'd use a blade on you. "He used to talk with the long-timers. In prison the short- timers would get together and the long timers would get together. "It's just a matter of associating with people who have something in common with you. "I don't know if Ray went to church or not," the convict said in answer to a question. "I never went." "The cons went to church to make connections for their drugs. This is the only place the cell block! inked. "Yes, Ray read. I don't know what kind of books, but hi read. "I used to see him around the place where we exchanged books. Never noticed what h« was getting, though." Again in answer to a question which was raised by the drugs - in - church statement: "Ray had access to drugs. He was psycho and they let these guys work around hospitals so they could treat them and I guess keep them under medical supervision. Before they got things straightened out, it was easy to get narcotics out of the hospital. He was there. He could have used narcotics, but I have no idea whether he did or not." Did it surprise you when you See RAY on Page 2 BLYTHEVILLE COURIER NEWS VOL. 63—NO. 77 BLYTHEVILLE, ARKANSAS (72315) TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 1968 12 PAGES 10 CENTS School Board Squares Off For June 11 A TRUE PIONEER of Blytheville died yesterday. She is Mrs. Sarah Antonia Thompson Walker, 85, whose late husband, Jonn.Walker, lent his name to Walker Park. Mrs. Walker was born in 1883 at Barfield and moved to Blytheville when its population was only 400. She was a member of Church of the Nazarene. She leaves two daughters; Miss : Lucy Thompson and Mrs. R. L. Mitchell, both of here; .; ,:. A son, Harold C. Thompson, Sr., of Blytheville; Two sisters, Mrs. Edith Hart, Morrilton, and Mrs. Jesse Scroggins, Hanford, Calif.; Seven grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and three great great granehildren. Services will be at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Cobb Funeral Home chapel with Revs. C. H. Porter and 0. S. Free officiating. Burial, grandsons serving as pallbearers, will be in Maple Grove.' ; ' . BLYTHEVILLE'S CITY COUNCIL will hold their regular monthly meeting tonight at 7:30 to discuss two resolutions and the passage of a parking lot ordinance, the City Clerk's office said this morning. One resolution will deal with a proposal by the council to hire a deputy city clerk, and the second is concerned with amending Ordinance 580 to comply with zoning recommendations of the Blytheville Planning Commission, officials said; Council members will also resume discussion on a proposal to raise the cost of building permits, a spokesman said. A ONE-CAR ACCIDENT early this morning at the curve on East Highway 18 where it intersects with Lockard resulted in minor injuries to Audie Hacker of Osceola, according to the Blytheville Police Department. The accident occurred at 12:01 a.m. when Hacker's 1966 Ford failed to negotiate the curve and crashed into a utility pole, authorities said. Hacker has been charged with driving while intoxicated and is now in Chick'asawba Hospital undergoing treatment for his injuries, police said. A CAR STOLEN sometime Sunday from the parking lot at Bob Sullivan's Chevrolet agency was recovered yesterday on'Hollywood Street by local police. The automobile, a. 19.62 Volkswagen, is owned by Kenny Borland, an employe of Bob Sullivan, and was recovered through the cooperation of a Blytheville resident who notified authorities of the car's location, police said. VOLUNTEER WORKERS for Mississippi County's Head Start Program are needed in each of the 12 centers throughout the county, it was announced today by Lynn Cox, director of the program. Workers are required in all phases of the program, but are especially needed to aid in conducting medical and dental clinics, Cox added. Interested persons are asked either to contact their Head Start Center or to call PO 3-0663 in Blytheville or LO 3-2235 in Osceola, Cox said. . The U nwinnable Fight By Herb Wight Managing Editor If members of the Blytheville School Board simply were caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea they wouldn't .be losing nearly as much sleep as they now are. Instead of a blue sea, the board faces a sea of black and white humanity (about 25,000 of them) and a bureaucratic "devil" that threatens loss of federal money and a barrage of court suits unless Blytheville's school district files — by July 7 _ a workable plan to com- petely desegregate city schools by September, -1969. Last Wednesday . representatives of the U. S. Office of Civil Rights calmly delivered the "integrate -'or -lelse" ultimatum-and last, night the board met to wrestle with the problem. • • All their mental grappling produced was a decision to keep struggling with the probem and then meet July 1 (five days before their federally - imposed deadline) and adopt a plan. Their diemma is obvious: Towering like the immovable mountain that wouldn't come . to Mohammed, the U. S. Office of Education, buttressed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, threatens to come crashing down on the board unless compliance with the Rights' act is met. On their other flank looms the city's 60 percent white'pop- ulation who — the board fears — will stampede from any section of town whose children are designated to attend what it presently an all-Negro school. Certainly'not to be forgotten is the segment of black voters who combined with whites to defeat last "year's $1 million bond issue that would have moved Blytheville toward integrated schools and which might have averted the present crisis. * . * * During the meeting, a moral question crept in related to the March 12, $843,000 bond issue .(which passed 812 to 164). Two features that, school officials used, to sell.the public on the bond issue included, constructing a new physical education building at Harrison High and making certain enlargements at Franklin School. However, at the' June 5 meeting with Civil Rights officials the school board'was told they should not spend "even $10" on an all-Negro school. The board is not legally.obli-: gated to spend the money on those buidings, according to Supt. J. K. Williams who quoted the board's attorney, ban Surge. The reason being,: he said, that the, March ballot did not spell out which school buildings were to be improved. There is, however, the board said lats night,'a moral obligation to do what they promised prior to the election. . But, they decided, moral obligation or no, the federal government will not be denied and spending the money on what now are all - Negro schools would be tantamount to throwing it away. . As Wiliams opined as he escorted this reporter from the meeting (while the board went into executive session), "Integration isn't the problem. It's pleasing the people." * * ' * Among the possible plans discussed last night were: Close Promised Land School (as per federal suggestion) and send one-half the pupils to Yarbro School and the other half to Central and Fairview. (If Promised Land is closed 1 the students and faculty may not be sent to an all - Negro school, according to federal guidelines.) The objection to that plan was voiced by board President .W. H .Wyatt. , ' "Don't you think that people are going to object if you do it to just one section and riot the whole city at once," he asked. Some thought so; other members did not. Another plan: Close Robinson, Franklin, Harrison, Sudbury and Lange and utilize the buildings for 'other school - associated purposes. Ask the city's voters to okay an additional three-mill tax and build two large elementary schools to house (with Central and FairvieW) the district's elementary students on Blaiberg Complications CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) - Dr. Philip Blaiberg, the world's longest surviving heart transplant patient, received emergency treatment for a liver complications today, Groote Schuur Hospital announced. In London, Dr. Christiaan N. Power Play Stalls Gounci OSCEOLA — The city's pub-, lie power problem came to light'last 'night during the group's: regular City Council meeting, ..'.'. Councilman R. ,E. Prewitt brought the matter'up by reading a letter from Sen. J. :W. Fulbright, 'In .the 1 e 11 e r Ful• bright said if all six aldermen vote, for it, Southwest Power Administration (SPA) wil terminate the contract with Osceola before it expires in December of this year: Prewitt,, made, a motion to terminate the contract with SPA and enter into a long-term contract with Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L)..and obtain, the discount thereby provided. He claimed that by the end,of this year, when the contract with SPA upim, UM itty will •• have lost $35,000 by not getting the discount. "This. council has had'the. problem of power••; since 1963 and Mr. Prewitt has been trying to sell us on AP&L ever since," Councilman Ray Morgan Jr. said. "Choose your words carefully," Prewitt countered. ,, "I will. I don't believe wi will lose that much money. The SPA contract will provide pow- «r at an economical cost," Morgan said. "It'doesn't matter what it will cost. We .will soon be at the point when we can't provide power to Osceola unlesi we have * contract. W* are close to that point now and I think we'll reach it this summer," Alderman Ed Teaford MmmeaUd. After more cost -'discussion, ; Jim Richardson, city utilities manager, was asked if he has made any comparison of the cost from SPA and AP&L. . Richardson, said he does so every month and then gave figures from January ,through May of this year. He said with SPA the cost would have been $148,.775.20 and with AP&L. on the present month - to - month basis,, the cost was-$147,323.51. • However, he said, the cost from ... AP&L,with the long-term contract (which, includes a discount) would have been $129,•76.22. The Council then voted on mi :'motion to end;the SPA con.... .tract with all Councilman except Ray Morgan and Ed Chii- fe* MCIOU OB Ptftt Barnard, who headed the surgical team that gave Blaiberg a new heart Jan. 2, said Blaiberg has hepatitis and his condition is "not critical." Barnard, on his way to Cape Town after visiting the Netherlands, said he talked by telephone with doctors at Groote Schuur Hospital who gave him a report on Blaiberg's condition. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. "His condition is not critical," Barnard told newsmen. "But I am disappointed that this happened. I have not given up hope." •Blaiberg, 59, returned to the hospital for routine tests June 4, five months and two days after he received the world's third transplanted human heart. He was transferred Monday to the special sterilized suite he had occupied after the operation. Meanwhile Britain's, heart transplant patient, Frederick West, 45, was suffering from a chest infection that developed three days ago. -But the National Heart.Hospital in London said he improved .slightly Monday night and the improvement wai maintained'today. West was operated on May 3. Bliiberg . received his now heart in the Groote Schuur team'* second transplant. Th* tM BjUBEBO M P«*t I an integrated basis. The objection to this plan was succinctly stated by Dr. Weldon T. Rainwater, board member: "The colored won't pass that bond issue." Wyatt, shaking his head, voiced the group's feeling of helplessness: "You're either going to have to close the Negro schools or send the white down there." * * * Selected quotations from last night's meeting shed light on the board's feelings: : "There's no use sending them to school if we can't give them the best education." — Dale .Briggs. ; "I don't see why the public won't-go along with us when they ( see it's not our fault." — George Hubbard. "We. .can't do what the general public .and what the guidelines want us to.do." — Dr. J. C. Guard. "We've found that we , can live with the colored in white , (schools), but I don't think you can send white to colored (schools)." — Wyatt. "Silk stocking row and those south, of Main will have to be treated the same if we make this thing work." — Briggs. "One thing I'm going to insist on is that the curriculum not be lowered." — Dr. Rainwater. "The two days they (the five- man team of Civil Rights workers) spent going through our records was to get evidence against us in case of a suit." — Williams. * * *• The pirmary reason they postponed a decision, the. board said last night, was to give Williams an opportunity to meet with other- state school superinend- ents facing the same problem and see how they will react to the federal dictum. Another reason hinges on a site for a new junior high school, for which city voters recently approved — in part — and $843,000 bond issue. (It .was to discuss the site selection that an executive session was called and this reporter asked to leave the meeting, the board members said.) The board hopes to have word on the site this week, they said. When word is received it may be necessary to have a called meeting prior to July 1, according to Williams. Whether they meet July 1 or sooner, one thing is sure. As one member put it, "We're all going to have to do a lot of thinking." Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy through ^ Wednesday. Showers and thundershowers mainly northwest half tonight with chance of • few locally severe thunder, storms. Widely scattered thun- dershoweri mainly south portions Wednesday. A little copier northwest tonight and north Wednesday, otherwise continued warm and humid, Low tonight tt-W. 'Silk stocking row and those south of Main *i will have to be treated f , • • '»' l • vtl the same.' — Dale Briggt 'I'm going to insist that the curriculum not be lowered.' —Dr. W.7. Rainwater 'AH of us are going to have to do a lot of thinking.' —Gcorg Huboonf

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