In June 1968, 40-year-old James Earl Ray was captured at London’s Heathrow Airport and extradited to the United States to stand trial for the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Today, in anticipation of the 43rd anniversary of King’s death, the Shelby County Register’s office in Tennessee released a series of newly rediscovered photos documenting scenes from Ray’s incarceration following his arrest.
The register’s office discovered a bundle of these long-forgotten photos in 2007, along with letters that Ray had written to his family while in detention. The county’s Register of Deeds, Tom Leatherwood, told the Associated Press that while the documents do not bring about any new revelations of the murder, they provide an intimate portrait of a momentous event in the nation’s history.
Ray pleaded guilty to King’s murder (though he later recanted his confession) and received a prison sentence of 99 years. He died in prison in 1998 at the age of 70.
The full collection of Ray’s letters and photos will soon be available on the Shelby County Register’s website.