Thursday, June 7, 2007

“Hold on one second, Joe…”

The following is an excerpt from a 2005 interview with promoter and film producer Jerry Weintraub, and my commentary on the interview. (The full interview can be found at the link below.) Weintraub claims that Joe Esposito called to inform him of Elvis’s death before Elvis’s body had been taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital. Since first reading this interview awhile back, I have been intrigued by the timeline Weintraub suggests, since it tells us that something doesn't seem quite right.

Q : Were you with the Colonel when you found out Elvis passed away?

A : No, I was at home and he was supposed to start a tour for me the next day in Maine and my telephone rang and it was Joe Esposito on one line. I don't know if he remembers this but it was Joe and he said, "Jerry, I got to talk to you,” and my other line rang and I said, "Hold on one second, Joe". And I hit the other line it was Roone Arledge from ABC news and he said to me, "Jerry, Elvis is dead.” And I said, "What? What?" I said, "Hold on", and I got back on with Joe. I said, "Joe, what’s the matter?" Joe said, "I'm in the bathroom with Elvis. He just died. He hadn't gone. They hadn't taken him away yet.” He said, "I just want you to know because your phone is gonna start ringing.” I said, "It's already rung. Roone Arledge is on the phone.”

You know, there was nobody else that was gonna handle it besides Joe. He had to get in there and take care of things and he did. Roone Arledge knew because the minute they call 911, you know, it goes out on the air and the police know and it goes on the police radio and the television people and the associated press know and it takes about one second especially for someone like Elvis. [end]

Let’s look at the facts according to Weintraub, and the implications of his statements:

1. Joe Esposito knew Elvis was dead, and stated that Elvis was dead. What does this tell us about Esposito’s subsequent statements, where he describes the life-saving measures, and rushing with Elvis (in the ambulance) to the hospital in an effort to resuscitate him? If Esposito stated that Elvis was dead, why did the paramedics continue working on the body, and then proceed to BMH where resuscitative efforts were continued for more than 30 minutes?

2. Roone Arledge of ABC news knew that Elvis was dead before 2:47pm (when the ambulance left the property). Esposito had to have called Weintraub after 2:33pm when the paramedics arrived, and before 2:47pm when the ambulance departed for BMH. The ambulance was called at 2:30pm, so sometime over the next 17 minutes (2:30pm - 2:47pm), someone notified Arledge that Elvis was dead.

3. Weintraub says that the source of the information was the 911 call, but as I point out in Elvis Decoded, there was no 911 system in place in Memphis in 1977. So, the fire station would have been notified by Dispatch with a distress call, and an ambulance would have been sent. If someone in California knew that Elvis was dead before 2:47pm CT (12:47 PT), then we'd have to ask if the call for an ambulance was *really* for someone in distress, or whether it was for someone who was already dead. That Joe Esposito may have called Weintraub at this time tells us that he was able to conclusively determine that Elvis was, in fact, dead, or he would not have been making such a call.

Also, according to "When Elvis Died," there was no activity on the wires (AP, UPI, local news organizations) until after Elvis had arrived at BMH at 2:56pm. Thus, Arledge's source could not have heard from any news organization prior to 2:47pm that Elvis had died.

Again, a 2:30pm call was placed for an ambulance, and the call supposedly referred to an adult male in distress. The address of 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard was given to Dispatch. The ambulance arrived Graceland at 2:33pm.

We can conclude that any emergency call would include the address where the victim is located, and this address would be broadcast over the radio. If the address was recognized as that of Graceland, and someone picked up the information on the radio and sent it out via any media outlet, or alerted private individuals (like Arledge), how then did this person conclusively determine that Elvis was dead? Why didn't he try to learn if it was Vernon or someone else who was the subject of the emergency call? (Or, was he able to confirm from someone inside Graceland that the victim was, in fact, Elvis, and that Elvis was dead?) If the person in question was Elvis, what was stated on the call to Dispatch that allowed anyone who picked up the information (on police/fire radio) to determine, with certainty, that Elvis had died (if the death was not confirmed with an inside source)? Seems to me that such a specific piece of information, which had made it to California before the ambulance had even left Graceland, suggests that someone knew Elvis was dead, and there was a specific leak of that information. Could someone have conclusively known that Elvis was dead, and relayed that information to Arledge (or a source who contacted Arledge) within 17 minutes of the emergency call?

Also, a key question arises: Esposito would not have identified the victim’s identity over the phone to the dispatcher, and even the people who are familiar with the content of the call as it came over the police/fire radio said the call was for an adult male in distress. There was no mention of Elvis, and the people who knew the address assumed the person in question was Vernon Presley. So, if there was no specific mention of Elvis on the call, how did Roone Arledge know within 17 minutes that Elvis was dead? He would have had access to no such information at that time, neither the name of the person nor the condition of the person.

Further, with no Internet and no e-mail back then, Roone Arledge would had to have received a call specifically stating that Elvis had died, and this could not have originated with an anonymous post on a message board, or a mass-e-mailing, or whatever.

Finally, if Elvis was known to be dead at Graceland before 2:47pm, what does that tell us about the entire afternoon?

Was the body really found at 2:20pm?

Why did Esposito find it so important to notify Jerry Weintraub of Elvis’s death at such a critical time?

What did Esposito mean when he said Elvis “hadn't gone”?

To close, Roone Arledge knew before 2:47pm (CT) that Elvis had died, but the 911 (emergency) call that Weintraub cites as the source of the information would not have included the identity of the victim, nor the victim’s condition. How, then, did Arledge know that Elvis was dead?

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