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 Interesting stories of August 1977
 
kissmequick
post Aug 20 2006, 02:10 AM
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Elvis' body was removed from the Baptist Memorial,
(IMG:http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/lovingelvisgal/body20removed20from20Baptist.jpg)
Just before noon on the 17th, Elvis' body was driven back to Graceland
Here's the car
(IMG:http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/lovingelvisgal/driven20back20to20Graceland.jpg)

Here's a strange bit of the story that often gets ignored. About 4am on the 18th, funeral day, Alice Marie Hovatar, Juanita Joanne Johnson and Tammy Baiter were just hanging out and chatting with the other 300 or so mourners holding an all night vigil in front of the mansion (as you do). Treatise Wheeler, (yes.) came driving through the area in a 1963 white Ford. He was driving south on Elvis Presley Blvd, but turned off into some lots on the right, (where Elvis Inc. is located now) and he turned around to head back north, here. His tires were burning. I don't think the girls knew what hit them. Literally. Wheeler barreled through the crowd, going about 40 or 50 mph. Officer F. M. McCann, who was standing nearby stated, " I heard the noise of his tires screeching and turned just in time to see his car hit the three bodies.. One of the bodies flew up in the air about five feet and landed on the windshield. A second was plastered against the front of the car. The third was being dragged under the car. He dragged her about 20 yards." The car kept going, dragging the Baiter girl, but began sputtering from the impact of the bodies and slowed to a halt about a block away. Wheeler jumps out and does a runner, but the cops nabbed him. There were three 16-year-old girls in the car with him. Charming host. Bam. Oops. Cya! Cops said he was staggering, incoherent, and legally drunk. The victims were taken to City of Memphis Hospital. Here's the car just after the accident. The two dead girls (Hovatar and Johnson) were mangled beyond recognition, and their purses and identity papers were scattered on the highway. The really scary thing about this part of it were the Elvis fans that were watching. After the initial excitement calmed, some of them yelled out, "Let's lynch him!"
(IMG:http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/lovingelvisgal/heres20the20car.jpg)

I wonder where the girls ended up. And whatever happened to the one that lived?

Funeral procession

(IMG:http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/lovingelvisgal/funeral20procession.jpg)


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Freis968
post Aug 20 2006, 05:43 AM
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Yes, I recall that story. It is horrible.


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pacer1965
post Aug 23 2006, 10:40 AM
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I remember reading that news in a paper.
It was awful wasn't it?


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Guest_The Batman_*
post Aug 23 2006, 12:08 PM
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At the time I collected all the newspaper clippings I have them in a box somewhere and I knwo the clipping of this accident is in there somewhere, thanks for the story Donna people forget about things like this
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Gordon
post Aug 23 2006, 06:43 PM
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sure is scary never heard of this [img]style_emoticons/default/crying.gif[/img]


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Guest_Brad_*
post Aug 23 2006, 08:19 PM
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I've read that story awhile back...very sad indeed.
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GuitarMan66
post Aug 24 2006, 12:11 AM
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I also remember the story in the papers, and a photo of a girl screaming taken just seconds after the crash has always stuck in my mind. It's been such a long time that I had forgotten just how terrible it was. As I dont think the papers had as much of a detailed story as this.


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kissmequick
post Aug 24 2006, 04:29 AM
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I wonder whatever happened to the man who hit them? I will see if I can follow up on that story.


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Jordans-Elvis-Wo...
post Aug 24 2006, 10:04 PM
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QUOTE (kissmequick @ Aug 23 2006, 11:29 PM) *
I wonder whatever happened to the man who hit them? I will see if I can follow up on that story.




I (think) I read that he got quite a big sentence for numerous serious charges including vehicular (sp? sorry) homicide.

Serves him right. But, it is scary to comprehend what would have happened to this guy if the bystanders did get to him first instead of the MPD. Thousands of these folks (all of them) were already emotionally unstable due to the ongoing events. I honestly don't know what I would have done if I were in the situation, ie. emotionally drained and have some drunk idiot kill my friends.....


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JimmyCool
post Jul 10 2009, 01:34 PM
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And what happened to Tammy Baiter?
Well, she's still alive, she's 49 years old now (she was born 1/8/60), and her name is Tammy Mershon now, you can look for her on Facebook (IMG:style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif)
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elvislady
post Jul 10 2009, 02:57 PM
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I heard this story too what a sad waste of lives those poor girls.
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SweetCaroline
post Jul 10 2009, 06:37 PM
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QUOTE (JimmyCool @ Jul 10 2009, 03:34 PM) *
And what happened to Tammy Baiter?
Well, she's still alive, she's 49 years old now (she was born 1/8/60), and her name is Tammy Mershon now, you can look for her on Facebook (IMG:style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif)


Tammy posted on ELVIS TOPIX forum this past year. It will be a tough search to find the old post.... but I will give it a try and post the link if I am lucky.
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Sebastiano Italy
post Jul 14 2009, 06:07 PM
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Links do not work. Sebastiano.
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Sebastiano Italy
post Jul 14 2009, 06:08 PM
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QUOTE (The Batman @ Aug 23 2006, 01:08 PM) *
At the time I collected all the newspaper clippings I have them in a box somewhere and I knwo the clipping of this accident is in there somewhere, thanks for the story Donna people forget about things like this



Hi Batman. Would you like to trade newspaper clippings? I'm interested in clipping up to 1977: I have many to trade. Let me know. Sebastiano.
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REX
post Jul 14 2009, 09:02 PM
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QUOTE (SweetCaroline @ Jul 10 2009, 07:37 PM) *
Tammy posted on ELVIS TOPIX forum this past year. It will be a tough search to find the old post.... but I will give it a try and post the link if I am lucky.


Thats amazing Carole, that Tammy is still around, hope you find that post, would love to read it.

I notice a few images in the 1st post are missing (due to Photobucket!) will look through my issues to see if I can locate the missing pictures.

Yesterday I spent some time going through a box that contains many Memphis Press Paper Elvis stories and features. (I had a subscription for 3 or 4 years to both Daily Memphis Papers, and the Sundays. They used to get sent to an Elvis Friend MARTHA COLLINS in the States, and she sifted all the Elvis bits out to send me at least 2 packages a week.. also included Billboard and Variety Weeklys)

This cutting is probably the last reported by the Memphis Press, which gives the Background to the accident and what happened to the Driver in Court, and also that Tammy happened to be back at the Memphis Hospital that week...



THEY PROTEST SENTENCE IN TRAFFIC DEATH OUTSIDE GRACELAND GATES
Printed Tuesday 9th May 1978
(IMG:http://i651.photobucket.com/albums/uu236/REXMARTIN/1977hitandrun001.jpg)

Mrs. Aloha Johnson, right and daughter-in-law, Mrs Sandra Johnson

MEMPHIS 'JUSTICE' PROTESTED AT GRACELAND


By ANNE B. McDONALD
Press-Scimitar Staff Writer


"There is no justice in Memphis," said Mrs. Aloha Johnson, looking sad and some-what exhausted. She had been standing all afternoon in 'front of Graceland mansion, holding a placard protesting the recent sentence given to the driver whose car killed her 19-year-old daughter and another young woman during the vigil by fans in front of the Elvis Presley home last August.

Mrs. Johnson feels there should have been a stiffer penalty for the driver, who got 10 years' imprisonment. Frustration and a feeling of helplessness have gripped Mrs. Johnson ever since her daughter, Juanita Joanne Johnson, was struck and killed in front of the singer's home by an automobile driven by Treatise Wheeler III.

Wheeler was charged with the early morning traffic deaths of Miss Johnson, 19, and Alice Hovatar, 19, of Monroe, La., and the critical injuring of a third young woman, Tammy Baiter, 17, of St. Clair, Mo., as all three girls stood outside Presley's Whitehaven home on the day of the entertainer's funeral.

Wheeler last week pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree murder and re¬ceived a 10-year sentences

"We believe the sentence was unfair, “Mrs. Johnson said. "The Memphis courts obviously believe that my daughter's life was of no more value than a sentence that boy probably only will serve five years of. That's two and a half years for each death. Is that justice?" Mrs. Johnson's poster listed several offenses she said Wheeler was charged with, including driving while intoxicated, hit and run, public drunkenness and injuring Miss Baiter. Mrs. Johnson scored a large zero for time of punishment after each listing on the card.

Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Sandra John¬son, stood beside her, holding a large portrait of Joanne, as the family called her. The picture, donated by the Johnson family, usually hangs in a restaurant across the street from Graceland. The restaurant loaned the Johnsons the picture for the afternoon.

"When (the family), heard about the Wheeler boy's sentencing, we all burst into tears. It was just like hearing about Joanne's death all over again," Mrs. John¬son said. "I don't see why this case had to have the punishment all wrapped up before the case even came to trial," she said. "This type of thing needs to be stopped." Wheeler received the minimum sentence on a guilty plea to second degree murder. The maximum is life in prison.

During last week's plea bargaining, Attorney General Hugh Stanton Jr. said de¬fendants in drunken driving accidents resulting in deaths usually are offered a one-year prison sentence on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Stanton said he considered the Wheeler case to be "extremely aggravated," and the state recommended a 10-year sentence.

"I can't do anything about that sentence now," Mrs. Johnson said, adding she hopes to speak with Stanton and Criminal Court Judge William H. Williams, in whose court the case was handled.

"We came up here six or eight weeks ago and at that time, a Memphis resident told me not to be surprised if the boy didn't receive a harsh sentence. The Memphis woman said it happens all the time. "I just feel I most protest what hap¬pened and try in my own small way to change the way the system is run. What if that boy gets out soon and does the same thing over again?

"I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't at least try," she said. "If any change comes from my efforts, your city will benefit more than I will."

She said she had talked briefly with Vernon Presley, Elvis' father, as he entered the Graceland grounds yesterday. "He didn't seem anxious to talk with me. He came up but didn't ask us in," she said. Mrs. Johnson is scheduled to leave Memphis for her Monroe, La., home tonight.

Meanwhile, Tammy Baiter, the third girl who was injured in the traffic accident, is back in Memphis for an operation to join leg muscles ripped apart by the accident. Speaking from her Methodist Hospital room, Miss Baiter agreed with Mrs. Johnson about the sentence. "I don't think he was given a fair sentence. It's top short," she said. "He hasn’t even been tried yet for what he did to me and I don't know if he ever will. "I want him to be taken to court for it and I don't want him to get out too soon," she said.

Miss Baiter said she re-entered Methodist Hospital May 1 - to have several pieces of muscle rejoined in her right leg. "When he hit me, a piece of the car went into my leg and tore about four inches of it," Miss Baiter said. "They didn't think at first I'd ever be able to walk again, but I have, and this operation will help, even more."

She said the injured leg is "a little bit shorter" than her left leg, but a slight build in her right shoe will help adjust for it. "I'm going home (today)," she said. "They thought they'd have to keep me two weeks, but I'm really healing fast. I'm going to visit Graceland and hopefully Mr. (Vernon) Presley before I go."

Miss Baiter has not been able to return to school, where she would have been in the 11th grade, but instead has been taking classes at home.

"It eliminates the pressure, but I don't think I'm going to be able to catch up," she said. She has missed eight months of school.


From the Files of my 1970s WORLDWIDE ELVIS NEWS SERVICE WEEKLY. (Un-published in my Magazine due to so many Reports being received....)


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REX
post Jul 16 2009, 05:36 PM
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This NewsPaper Story (September 1977),
sums up the BODYSNATCHING Attempt
with more details than in most reports


Attached File  Bodysnatching001.jpg ( 2.96MB ) Number of downloads: 4

Ronnie Adkins, who tipped off police about the attempt to steal
Elvis Presley's body, at the door of the Presley Mausoleum.



OCR -scan of above Newspaper clipping.....

Inside story of the Elvis bodysnatching by ex-Marine who tipped off the police


A MAN who took part in the attempt to snatch Elvis Presley's body told for the first time this week the inside story of the macabre plot.

Ex-Marine Ronnie Adkins, a convicted burglar, alleged that the scheme was financed by a wealthy businessman who planned to hold the rock idol's body for a $10 million ransom.

Adkins, 26, of Memphis, Term., was one of three men arrested by police who were waiting in ambush near the Presley mausoleum in the Forest Hills cemetery in Memphis last month. A fourth member of the gang escaped in his car.

Adkins, who said he tipped off police about the snatch attempt, told THE STAR: "Another 20 minutes and we would have had the body. If I had not told the police what was happening, there was no way they would have known about it.

"As it was, I thought they were never going to spring the trap that I knew they had set up."

The other men arrested were Raymond Green, 25, and Bruce Nelson, 30, both of Memphis. Adkins said he didn't know the identity of the fourth man.
"The deal was we would get $10,000 each," he said. "We would snatch the body, hand it over and get our money."
Adkins said he was first contacted about the plan by Nelson, an old schoolfriend. "I was pretty sick at the thought of stealing a body," he said.
"I met Elvis and I had a lot of respect for the guy. The reason why I went along with the idea was to make sure these people wouldn't be able to steal Elvis's body."

Adkins claimed that the gang made their first attempt to grab Elvis's body on August 16, the day Presley died.

The attempt was abandoned
after Green and Nelson took flight when a policeman drove up to the Memphis funeral home in his squad car hoping to view the body, Adkins alleged. He said he tipped off police about both attempts to steal the body.

Adkins described to THE STAR how he had driven to the cemetery in his car — he was the only one with a car — while Green and Nelson arrived on a motorcycle.

"I didn't completely trust them, so I had my shotgun in the car trunk. But they both had pistols. All the guns were left in the car, which we parked about 100 yards from the mausoleum," he said. "We got into the cemetery by climbing into a tree overhanging the fence. "We stayed there for about 20 minutes while Green and Nelson made sure there were no security guards about.

"I asked Green why the fourth man was needed and he told me it would take the four of us to jerk the 900 Ib. casket loose in the crypt so we could get at the body. "Green and I crawled 50 yards on our bellies then we ran the last 50 yards up to the back of the mausoleum. We had a big wrench, some bolt cutters and a pry bar and we started to break the lock on the door.

"Nelson and the other man were coming across the graveyard when Green shouted that there were police around. We grabbed the tools and the four of us took off. "We climbed over the same tree we had used to get in the cemetery.

"Green, Nelson and myself jumped into my car and drove off. The other guy got in his own car and took off."

Adkins said they were stopped by a police roadblock after a quarter of a mile. The three were charged with trespassing and attempting to steal a body. The charges were later dropped.


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SweetCaroline
post Jul 17 2009, 04:38 PM
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I sure remember this happening. I was pretty upset about it. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/sad.gif) Elvis' death was becoming so strange. I was in shock at the young death of ELVIS as it was ....and then after fellow ELVIS fans were killed on ELVIS Presley Blvd.....and also his body attempted to be stolen....it was feeling like Twilight Zone stuff! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/blink.gif) Like you couldn't make this stuff up it was becoming so weird. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/ohmy.gif) I wonder why the charges were DROPPED against the attempt to steal ELVIS body?

I do think Wheeler deserved a harder sentence than he got for killing and maiming (IMG:style_emoticons/default/angry.gif) and don't blame Mrs. Johnson for protesting that sentence. Jordan is right. It is good that the fans were not allowed to carry out justice in their emotional state or Wheeler would have been hung on the nearest tree.

Rex, you are a treasure to ELVIS fans. I am amazed how you saved so much history and are kind enough to share it here. I know I say it a lot but every day I come here and feel so blessed you have saved and share with us all this historical info!!! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/notworthy.gif)

I have been searching through the TOPIX at TOPIX trying to find that post Tammy Baiter did. The hard part is it was NOT a thread she started but just a post in someone else thread....so it means scanning through pages of TITLEs of threads hoping something will trigger a memory and no memory being triggered by the TITLE...just scanning tons of posts. So far no luck, but I was positive it was really Tammy as her post was very credible.
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SweetCaroline
post Jul 17 2009, 08:26 PM
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Found the post posted at Toix on September 7, 2008 by username Tammy Baiter, TerryHoute, Indiana

"I'm Tammy Baiter the only surviver of the three girls ran down on Aug. 18, 1977. I'm trying to find Al Strada and have been for several vears. Pleases if anyones could you help me? My e-mail/messenger bbcombac@yahoo.com Thank you,Tammy Baiter Aug 18, 1977 I'm 48 yrs old now born 1/8/60 "

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http://www.topix.com/forum/who/elvis-presl...NEI4K5DB1VP5/p6
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