"They wouldn't have me in a maximum-security prison if I wasn't interested in getting out."
—James Earl Ray,
in an interview, May 27
The plot was classic in its simplicity—and its initial success. It began while some 200 prisoners were idling away their recreation time after dinner in the yard of the Brushy Mountain state prison. The beige-painted stone fortress, 40 years old and showing its age, is half hidden in the rugged Cumberland Mountains, 40 miles north of Knoxville, Tenn. No one had ever escaped for...