The Death of “Big Jim” Elkins

Posted: October 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

This is the first of several posts dealing with irresponsible claims made in Corsi’s latest book, “Who Really Killed Kennedy: 50 Years Later: Stunning New Revelations About the JFK Assassination”. On page 221, Corsi tells this side-story about Portland crime boss James “Big Jim” Elkins:

On Friday, October 17, 1968, J.B. Elkins died under suspicious circumstances. The car he was driving was pushed off the road by another driver who was never apprehended or identified. He veered off the road and crashed into a utility pole. Elkins reportedly died of massive chest injuries suffered when he collided with the steering wheel of his car. Representatives of the Portland Police Department were sent to Arizona to view Elkins’ body to validate the Portland crime czar was actually deceased. At the time of his death, Elkins was free on a twenty-thousand-dollar bond. He was facing indictments in Portland, Oregon, for possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit a felony, possession of dangerous drugs, and several counts of receiving and concealing stolen property.510

Corsi footnotes this paragraph as follows:

510 Eastern Arizona Bureau, “Autopsy puts death blame on car crash,” Arizona Republic, Saturday, October 12, 1968, page 28.

Corsi’s paragraph has only six sentences, and yet three of them succeed in having major factual errors. This is made abundantly clear if one simply looks up the very article Corsi has cited as his only source.

Elkins article
First, Elkins didn’t die on Friday, October 17. This would seem obvious, given that Corsi’s own referenced source plainly states that his death was reported in the newspaper on Saturday, October 12. Indeed, Elkins died on the morning of Thursday, October 10; neither a Friday nor a date with a 7 in it. Furthermore, nowhere in the article does it say that Elkins’ death was “suspicious,” as will be discussed below.

Second, Corsi writes “The car he was driving was pushed off the road by another driver who was never apprehended or identified.” This appears to be made up out of whole cloth. The article makes no mention of a second vehicle or driver, and it doesn’t suggest that Elkins’ car was pushed. Indeed, if Elkins’ car was pushed, that would necessitate physical contact between the vehicles, and the article flatly says that there was no known reason for the crash “except that [Elkins] may have fallen asleep.”

Third, Corsi also writes “Representatives of the Portland Police Department were sent to Arizona to view Elkins’ body to validate the Portland crime czar was actually deceased.” The article, to the contrary, says that the Portland police merely requested a copy of the autopsy. Nothing is said about anyone traveling from Oregon to Arizona.

On that third point, it appears that the book Portland Confidential, which profiles Elkins’ life, claims that some Portland officers were suspicious after Elkins was cremated, and that one officer traveled to Arizona and allegedly returned with a photo showing Elkins had been shot twice in the chest. Unfortunately, this sounds less like historical fact and more like rumor; particularly in that no extant copy of the supposed photo appears to actually exist, and the way the story carries the implication of a elaborate cover-up. If Portland officers were irritated after Elkins was promptly cremated (the newspaper reported his funeral service was October 12), then they couldn’t have taken the supposed photo. And if the photo came from the autopsy report or the crime scene investigation, it would stand to reason that a picture showing bullet holes in the man’s chest would factor heavily into determining his cause of death.

Though Corsi doesn’t mention it, on October 23, the Arizona Republic published a short follow-up on Elkins’ death:

GLOBE (AP) – A six-man coroner’s jury found yesterday that James Butler Elkins, 67, died Oct. 10 of multiple injuries suffered in a one-car accident. Elkins, a chief witness in a vice probe in Portland, Ore., died after his car smashed into a power pole in Globe. Globe policeman Jim Alberts said there was no evidence that another car was involved in the accident. He said there was nothing about the accident to indicate foul play was involved.

If Elkins were shot to death, and there was photographic evidence showing this, then the cover-up had to involve over half a dozen people. And they were completely successful too, leaking nothing except the rumor of photos. Corsi, however, doesn’t even go to the trouble of justifying a conspiracy to cover-up the cause of Elkins’ death; he simply ignores all the newspaper reports to the contrary, and fails to share those facts with his readers.

Obviously this anecdote is tangential to the overall narrative of the JFK assassination that is the central theme of the book (except to the extent that Corsi seemingly includes the story with the implication being that Elkins was murdered because of his intimate knowledge of the Kennedy assassinations). What this illustrates in unambiguous terms is how factually unreliable Corsi’s reporting is even when he provides a simple source that can be checked.

In a book with over 700 footnotes, who can afford to check his sources to ensure that he’s being honest about what they say? How many might prove to actually contradict the information he’s citing them for? And how much can Corsi be trusted, then, when he doesn’t provide sources for his claims?

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