Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Death of Sam Cooke

**Update: Interview with Erik Greene III

CL: What is your family's perspective on the events of the night that Sam Cooke was killed?

Greene: Personal feelings from the family aside, Sam's shooting didn't make sense from several common-sense angles. First of all, why would Sam to drive that far out of his way (and Boyer's, for that matter) to go to the seedy Hacienda Motel, especially since he would've had to pass several quality motels in order to do so? In the coroner's inquest, Boyer claimed she was held against her will, yet Sam allegedly left her in the car alone as he checked into the motel. During questioning, she testified she asked Sam if she could go to the bathroom as he was ripping off her clothes, and he stopped assaulting her so she could take a bathroom break. When she was done, he left her alone again and used the bathroom himself — finally giving her the opportunity to escape!

Bertha Franklin (the motel attendant) testified that Sam broke down her door, searched her apartment, and then came back into the living room demanding to know where Boyer went. Franklin claimed Sam twisted her arm and pinned her down on the floor, demanding to know more information, yet she managed to escape the hold — an interesting scenario that was never questioned. During their tussle, she grabbed her gun from atop the television and shot Sam. Why hadn't Franklin remembered her gun when he was trying to break down the door? Why didn't she go for the gun while Sam was searching the apartment? In Our Uncle Sam, I point out how many things don't make sense and were never questioned in the "official" explanation of events that night.

Personally, I believe Sam was killed because he was worth more dead than alive to certain parties.

CL: To whom?

Greene: First of all, there were details in Sam's death that were strikingly similar to that of singer Bobby "I Fought the Law" Fuller. Both had at one time been artists signed to record labels owned by Bob Keane. Both died in absurd manners whose evidence was largely ignored. (Fuller's death was ruled a suicide even though his autopsy revealed gasoline was poured down his throat after he died). The last place both were seen alive was PJ's — the Los Angeles nightclub owned by reputed mobsters. It was rumored Keane had a $1 million insurance policy on Fuller at the time of his death, though I haven't found evidence of a similar policy on Sam. It is unclear if this incident had a direct correlation with Sam's homicide, but it's interesting enough to note just the same.

Bobby Fuller
Bobby Fuller

What's of more significance is that within six months of his death, Sam's ex-Manager Allen Klein sat as president of Tracey Records Limited, the parent company of Sam's enterprises named after his daughter. J.W. Alexander, Sam's long-time business partner, assumed the role of Tracey's vice president. Sam's will was never found, so his wife, at one time facing the humiliation of divorce, now found herself executor of his estate. Sam's parents, brothers and sisters got nothing and still don't receive royalties from his estate or his music catalog to this day.

After my first edition was released, I was contacted by persons who had knowledge pertaining to his business dealings, as well as someone who offered a chilling account of what happened that night. I go into more detail in the second edition.

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