From its earliest days, Tennessee has had a rich history of crime and justice, with stories known across the country.
From local stories of moonshiners and vigilantes, to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that rocked the nation, those interested in learning more about the state’s notorious crime history can do so at the new temporary exhibit, “It Happened Here,” opening May 17, 2018.
(Alcatraz East is a crime museum featuring an in-depth look at American crime history, which includes artifacts from lots of different eras and topics, not just the penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. The museum has five galleries: History of Crime, Crime Scene Investigation, The Consequence of Crime, Crime Fighting and Pop Culture. Courtesy of Alcatraz East and YouTube)
“Alcatraz East is already known for highlighting the work of local leaders in forensic science, and as the home of the state’s electric chair Old Smokey, but we wanted to delve deeper into other Tennessee stories that related to our collection,” explains Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits at Alcatraz East Crime Museum.
“These Tennessee crime stories many visitors will recognize as being of national importance, while we’ve also included some lesser known local stories.”
“It Happened Here” will open in May and will remain open through April 2019.
The exhibit takes place during the 50th anniversary year of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Memphis, and the exhibit will include items related to the assassin, James Earl Ray.
These items include a courtroom sketch by his future wife, who he met while she was covering his escape from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.
(Learn More about strange circumstances of the man who killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the months before and after the assassination. Courtesy of AL .com and YouTube. Posted on Apr 3, 2018)
The famous former penitentiary is also featured in the exhibit, including a cell key.
The most significant piece related to Ray is a hotel registration card signed under the alias Eric Galt, a name he used while on the run after his escape from Missouri State Prison in 1967.
The Tennessee crime-focused exhibit will also feature legendary lawman Sheriff Buford Pusser.
He was the youngest sheriff in the state’s history, and became famous for his crusade against moonshiners and the local mafias.
(Learn About Buford Pusser: Still Walking Tall. Courtesy of the Jackson Sun and YouTube. Posted onAug 23, 2014)