I've also been staring at this all day: "James Earl Ray's clothes on rack."

"James Early Ray's clothes on rack" is another photograph taken by Memphis photographer Gil Michael in 1968 and not made public unti now.

Michael took a number of photographs on Ray's return to Memphis from London. He had been arrested at Heathrow on June 8.

According to Marc Perrusqui in the Commercial Appeal, Bill Morris, the then-sheriff, hired Michael to shoot Ray's arrival at the jaill:   

Morris said he brought in Michael, then an employee at Memphis State University, to document that Ray wasn't being mistreated. One picture Michael shot showing Morris escorting Ray into the jail was disseminated that night to the news media.

But the rest of Michael's photos were sealed up. Michael said the sheriff's office confiscated his negatives.


So on one level, the images are basic work-for-hire, bureaucratic documentary work, the sheriff's pictures to do with as he pleases. But at the same time Michael clearly aspires to something much bigger.

Consider his amazing anti-mug shot -- http://eetheridge.posterous.com/james-earl-rays-backwards-facing-mug-shot -- or as I have come to think of it, The Faceless Assassin.

Who made that stunning pose? Ray? The sheriff?

Perrusqui says that Ray had been "helplessly shoved into a corner by his captors at the Shelby County Jail."

Is Michael working for himself -- and us? I don't know.

I do know that the picture above knocks me out.