Patrick Lacey talks about the stealing of Elvis Presley body. Did it happen? Was Vernon Presley in on it? You Decide for yourself. This interview accrued after i had a very long phone call from Adkins.
three men were arrested for trying to steal Elvis Presley’s body from Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. Twenty-five years later, one of those men claimed that he was hired to stage the corpse-napping.
Ronnie Tyler, a bail bondsman, bounty hunter and FBI informant whose birth name, Ronnie Lee Adkins, was sacrificed to the witness protection program in 1992, says that a few weeks after Elvis’s death, Shelby County sheriff’s deputy Billy Talley came to him with a business proposition. Elvis’s father, Vernon Presley, wanted his son buried at Graceland. Trouble was, Shelby County wouldn’t allow it – Graceland wasn’t zoned for dead bodies. Vernon had asked the Board of Adjustment for a variance, but they’d refused. So Vernon called up his buddy Billy and asked him to arrange something.
Just past midnight on August 29, 1977, Ronnie, Raymond Green, Bruce Nelson, and an unidentified fourth man drove up to Elvis’s mausoleum, where the Memphis Police Department was waiting. They’d received a tip from a local reporter, Russell Ruffin, who’d gotten a call from none other than Ronnie Lee Adkins. They watched Tyler and his gang approach the mausoleum and rattle the gate, but before they set foot inside, a car driving past the cemetery startled them into flight. Three of them piled into the car, and were soon pulled over and arrested. The fourth scaled a nearby fence and vanished into the night. He wound up at an area hospital the next day with a leg injury sustained in his nocturnal acrobatics, but was neither identified nor charged.
The three remaining men were charged with criminal trespass, and prosecutors called Ronnie to the stand, where he spun a wild tale about a man named Nuchie, who’d offered him $40,000 to steal Elvis’s corpse. Nuchie, he said, intended to hold the King for $10 million in ransom. The prosecutor was forced to admit that “This witness is so unreliable that we cannot stand by or behind any statement he makes. There is no other proof of any substantial nature. We have no further proof or evidence to put forward.” The case was dismissed.
On September 28, 1977, the Board of Adjustment, faced with the obvious security threat to Elvis’s remains, relented. His 900-pound copper coffin was removed from the mausoleum at Forest Hill Cemetery and carried home to Graceland, where the King was reburied on October 2.
As for Deputy Talley, in 1997 he was tried for conspiring to murder FBI Special Agent Eddie Young, who’d investigated him for drug dealing. Ronnie Lee Tyler’s testimony helped win the conviction.
Ronnie himself is still around – a big, mustachioed dude whose three children were shot and mother murdered in Garland, Texas in 1992. In 2009, he spotted the man he believes was responsible on TV, where he was featured on A&E’s “The First 48″ as a witness in another crime. Clarence Bailey, the accused killer, was already in jail in Tennessee. Dallas County, Texas promptly charged Bailey with capital murder, and extradited him in May 2010. Unfortunately, it looks like the authorities destroyed physical evidence from the crime just 15 months after it occurred. Ronnie has filed suit against them and, in typical fashion, alleged a vast conspiracy involving several federal agencies – but not, apparently, any member of the Presley family.
The above photo was taken from the window looking out of the Crypt.
Photos taken by Keith Boswell