After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. James Earl Ray (the man convicted of the murder) fled to Canada. In Canada he went to the public library in Toronto and looked through the official birth and death certificates. He found the birth certificate of a man named Ray Sneed, a Canadian citizen and resident of the Muskoka region of Ontario.

Using the information stolen from Ray Sneed’s birth certificate, James Earl Ray was able to obtain a Canadian passport and found passage on a plane bound for England, where he was eventually apprehended.

The interesting part of this story (for me at least) is that Ray Sneed, the man whose identity James Earl Ray stole, owned and lived in a cottage down the road from my father’s cottage. The cottage of Ray Sneed is still located in Seguin Township near the town of Rosseau, south of Parry Sound Ontario, although the late Mr. Sneed no longer owns it.

According to my father (who retired as a high ranking officer in the Toronto Police Service), once the FBI and RCMP found that James Earl Ray had made it to England using a Canadian passport, they began to investigate Ray Sneed. FBI and RCMP officers spent 6 months questioning people who knew Ray Sneed and Sneed himself before determining that Sneed had nothing to do with the case and Ray had stolen his identity without Sneed knowing.