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Sam Cooke’s 1964 Murder Case Needs Further Exploration

Cooke died tragically on December 11, 1964, at the age of 33. Cooke rescued himself from what he considered to be financial insolvency by leaving the Gospel industry, an industry that even in 2018 is still reputed to be outrageously frugal, for the more generous and profitable secular music industry. He admitted to Dick Clark when posed with the question, “Why did you leave Gospel?” responding “For financial reasons” Cooke also had greater plans and wanted to be a music industry executive.

At the time of his death, Cooke was living in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. He entered the music industry at a time when it was completely ruled by corruption, broken legs, extremely shady deals and ass-kickings. It was a dangerous world that many in the gospel industry thought the former gospel singer was selling his soul for … some even prophesying his early demise.

The gospel industry didn’t see the bigger picture Cooke had in mind as his friend Lou Rawls stated, “Sam would have been the first Berry Gordy.” Cooke said to be an astute businessman, wanted to create a vehicle for other black singers to get out of being pigeonholed on the Billboard R&B charts and chitlin’ circuits and to make the money for the work they deserved. He himself crossed over in the days when very few Black artist had the opportunity. In addition, Cooke owned his work and masters and that didn’t sit well with some people according to elders in the industry.

Cooke is Murdered

Sleezy quick sex motel where Cooke was murdered. The site has since been demolished

On the night that Sam Cooke was murdered, he had stopped by Lou Rawls house to visit and Lou’s newborn baby would not stop crying. Rawls stated Cooke picked the baby up and said “What’s wrong man?” but the baby continued to cry and Rawls stated his German Sheppard, who was always under the baby’s crib, got up and left when Cooke came by as if he knew something was wrong. Rawls’ mother later revealed to him that babies and animals have a keen sense when someone is about to die or tragedy is about to occur.

Rawls stated even after Cooke left, his son would not stop crying and he told Sam he couldn’t go to PJs because he thought his son was sick. Sam stopped by Martoni’s Italian restaurant in the San Fernando Valley outside of Los Angeles first to meet friends for dinner and that’s where he spotted an attractive Asian woman sitting with three men by the name of Elisa Boyer who was 22 at the time. Within no time Sam was cuddled up with Boyer in the booth, not much was said about the three men but Sam was with her and hanging out with some music industry people who were also there at the time.

It’s not clear if this or PJs is where he met up with the KDAY DJs. but he and Boyer eventually left and went to PJs. The bar was a hangout for entertainers in LA and Sam allegedly got into a heated argument with a few men in the club who were hitting on Boyer and Boyer stated she asked Sam to take her home around 2am, knowing Sam was inebriated and agitated, instead of calling a cab, she willingly got in Cooke’s new Ferrari and she said he was speeding on the 101 Freeway.

She stated Sam got on the freeway against her repeated requests to take her home and was driving towards the hood to go to the well known sleazy motel Hacienda Heights, notorious for one night stands and one-hour rentals.

Cooke and his wife were living separate lives because of the death of their youngest son who drowned in the family pool. Cooke blamed his wife Barbara but also felt guilty for not being there. The marriage was in shambles and there were reports of extramarital activity on both ends but the story continues to take more strange turns.

11 Dec 1964, Los Angeles, California, USA — Police said Mrs. Berth Lee Franklin, 55, shown here smiling 12/11, fired the shot that killed Sam Cooke, a popular singer with the teenage set, when he kicked in the door of her apartment. According to police, Mrs. Frankin, manager of a motel, had been warned previously on the telephone by another motel resident that there was a prowler on the premises. Officers said they learned he was searching for a female companion who was located later. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Once Cooke and Boyer arrived at the hotel, Cooke got out of the car leaving Boyer alone, in the passenger seat, while he went to register for the hotel room. The clerk Bertha Franklin peered to the side of Cooke and saw Boyer in Cooke’s car and informed him that he would have to register as Mr and Mrs.

This was a pristine opportunity for Boyer to escape or to signal Franklin that she was in trouble unless they were working together. After all, Cooke was registering for a sleazy hotel room? If she thought she was in danger as she later stated in the short trial wearing dark glasses on the stand during her testimony (something that would never be allowed today) why didn’t she use this opportunity to get away? it appeared she was not telling the whole story. Cooke’s attorney barely had a chance to question her or anyone else as the trial was very brief and one-sided according to witnesses.

Boyer stated that Cooke dragged her into the room, while drunk, and took off his clothes and then he proceeded to take off her sweater and skirt leaving her on the bed with her bra and panties on. She stated she was sure he was about to rape her but then he stopped and went to the bathroom. Even women close to the situation on Sam’s behalf stated that’s not how situations like this go.

These were the days before rape kits and DNA so this part of the investigation was never completed and it was never determined if Cooke and Boyer had actually had sex. Cooke was always said to carry at least $2000 in cash in his wallet, which, in 1964, was like $20,000. We’re talking about a time when the average rent for an apartment was $75.00 to $100.00 a month. Since he had been buying drinks and dinner and was inebriated there is no question Boyer saw the wad of cash he was carrying. However, after the murder took place and she left the pants on the street they found a money clip with a mere $108.00 and all of his credit cards were missing. This makes no sense, if someone found a wallet full of cash on the street why would they leave $108.00 moreover still in the clip unless they wanted it to look like robbery was not a motive?  Boyer stated she grabbed her clothes and his when she ran out of the room when he went to the bathroom. If he disrobed first, wouldn’t her clothes have been easily accessible by being on top of his?

16 Dec 1964, Los Angeles, California, USA — Witness and alleged protitute Elisa Boyer, wearing a disguise, testifies during the Coroner’s Inquest of the murder of soul singer Sam Cooke. Many historians state this was a quick and racist trial as today, nobody would be able to wear a disguise (glasses) on the stand. A recording of Boyer’s testimony appears to be dishonest and calculated. She had no emotion which led many to believe she and Bertha were working in concert to have Sam murdered — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
The woman Elisa Boyer, who allegedly helped to set up Sam Cooke’s murder. Years later she was arrested for killing her husband in 1979. It is alleged the motel ran a prostitution ring and Bertha Lee (hotel manager) was a pimp and Elisa was one of her whores.

Cooke’s actions when he discovered his wallet and clothes were missing, upon returning from the bathroom, according to the desk clerk, a portly 55-year-old former madam by the name of Bertha Frankin, didn’t add up either.  She stated he banged on the office door looking for the woman completely naked except for one shoe and a suit jacket?  Today the first thing that would be done is a toxicology report on Cooke’s blood and there is a very good chance it would have been discovered he was probably slipped a mickey or some other drug by his alleged bizarre actions. Wouldn’t even a drunk person wrap themselves in a sheet instead of walking to the office naked?

She stated he got physical with her and they fell to the floor, she was 30 pounds heavier than him and managed to wrestle herself away from the drunk Cooke and ran to grab the gun off of the top of the fridge and she shot at him three times. She missed twice but pierced his heart with the third bullet killing him. She stated her lunged at her one last time and she hit him with a broomstick? Why not just shoot him again? His last words according to her “Lady, you shot me.” Franklin later smiled when asked to take a picture for the press after the murder (see photo)




Singer Etta James went to view Cooke’s corpse and immediately knew the whole story was not being told. She stated Sam was so badly beaten he was almost decapitated and both of his hands were bruised and completely crushed as if he had been in the fight for his life. In addition, she said his nose was mangled. Some have speculated Sam was set up an robbed by Boyer and Franklin. In addition, Cooke was placed in a coffin with a glass top preventing people from touching him or examining why he had on heavy makeup.

Boyer was arrested just a few months after Cooke’s death for prostitution and she ended up getting arrested again for murdering her husband in 1979. No word on what happened to Bertha Franklin except that she moved because of numerous death threats. She turned around and sued Sam Cooke’s estate after killing him for $200,000 (like a million dollars in the 60s) for anguish and physical injuries that it took for her to kill him. She was awarded $30,000 as a settlement. It is beyond evident there is a lot more to this story. Cooke would be 86 if he was still alive today.

Some speculate that Cooke’s former manager Allen Klien may have had some involvement in the situation. Klien had Cooke sign an agreement for a company he created called Tracey, LTD, named after Cooke’s daughter that would allow Cooke to be spared of IRS scrutiny but that greatly benefited Klien as the owner of Sam’s work if he died. Sam’s wife Barbara ended up selling the remainder of Sam’s work to Klien.

Sam Cooke and second wife Barbara

Cook’s life and everybody involved with him were in shambles. His wife and he were living separate lives in their home in LA and were on the verge of divorce. HIs first wife died in a car accident. His mentee before he died, 21-year-old Bobby Womack, ended up marrying his wife, Barbara, just three months after his Cooke’s death in 1965, getting him blackballed in the industry.

Barbara allegedly found out Bobby and her then 18-year-old daughter by Cooke was having an affair in 1970 and she divorced him, then her daughter ended up marrying Womack’s younger brother Cecile and they formed the singing group Womack and Woman and had the hit single “Baby I’m Scared of You” in the 80s. Finally, Bobby lost several of his kids tragically as well and ended up with a severe cocaine habit in the 80s.

Points to consider:

  • Was Sam set up by the two women and LED to the Hacienda for a trap where the 3 men who were at the bar were waiting in the room and beat Cooke to death?
  • Was Elisa Boyer one of Bertha Franklin’s whores
  • Who were the 3 men at the bar with Elisa
  • Why was money left in the clip?
  • What happened to the credit cards
  • Did Boyer take a lie detector test?
  • Are any of Boyer’s clothes still in evidence
  • Did Cooke’s manager Allen Klien have anything to do with the situation?
Sam Cooke in a glass-covered casket. The late Etta James stated his hands and fingers were crushed and mangled indicating a severe beating that led to his death.

 

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5 comments

J.A. Holland June 9, 2019 at 6:39 am

The story of Sam’s death will NEVER be told in its entirety. I’ve been listening to/researching Sam’s life since I was a kid and, at age 45, I’m still no closer to the truth of what happened to Sam other than that the “official” account is categorically false on every single account.
Sam Cooke was beaten to death and shot posthumously. Why do I say that? Lack of blood at the crime scene. In every known film footage/picture of a dead Sam Cooke slumped near naked against a wall, there is barely any blood to be seen. This points to the FACT that Sam was not killed in that spot but posed there after his demise. Had he been shot while alive, there would have been massive amounts of blood pooled all around him which would be plainly visible on the evidence. There isn’t.
Also, examining the casket photo, his hands are clearly broken with his fingers dislocated and bruises plainly visible. The official version of his death says nothing of Cooke beating either Boyer or Franklin much less with such force as to break his own hands and fingers.
Lastly, it is known that Sam crossed the Mob. While even the new documentary on Netflix points to Sam having rejected the Mob, that is false. The music industry, then as now, is set up in a way where NOBODY becomes world famous unless they play ball with the powers that be. It just isn’t possible. There is no such thing as a self made star…much less a star of Sam’s caliber at the time of this death.
Sam Cooke, as much as people still don’t want to believe or admit this, was a product of the industry and, as such, had to do certain things in order to reach the level of success and fame he’d enjoyed. In short, he was not only in with the mob/illuminati, he was (like any other star than and now) OWNED by them. At some point he became too convinced of his own talent and started to tug at his leash a little too hard. This never ends well and it cost him his life. You see, Sam was very headstrong.

He knew his talent and he desperately wanted to make it big so, when given the nod by the powers that be, he jumped on it without thinking of the consequences this would, inevitably, bring upon him. He signed the dotted line BUT Sam wanted out once he realized what was going on. Perhaps he didn’t truly comprehend how deep in he was and that there is no getting out alive or with your career/reputation intact, but he turned his back on the same people that created him and gave him his fame and fortune. His son’s “accidental” drowning was a warning. It was their way of saying “Fall back in line or you’re next”. I don’t think Sam truly understood nor comprehended who he was dealing with.
His son died in 1963. Sam followed his son into death a year and some months later. Coincidence? I think not. I know not.
As for Allen Klein and JW Alexander having been complicit in Sam’s death. JW was a puppet and a traitor who always worked for the powers that be in an effort to undermine Sam’s independence but he wasn’t the killer. Did he know? Yes but he couldn’t warn Sam because that would have been his ass too. The real culprit was Allen Klein. He not only knew but was the middle man between the powers that be and Sam. Allen set up the murder in exchange for Sam’s catalog and royalties. He didn’t kill Sam either but he was the one that set it up and saw it through. It’s no accident that Sam’s family didn’t get a cent from his estate until AFTER Klein’s death, decades after Sam was killed.
Bertha Franklin died a few years after Sam. She was an inconvenient witness who could have had a change of heart and came forward to say that Sam’s corpse was brought to the Hacienda Motel….not a living Sam Cooke. Lis Boyer was allowed to live because she was a known hooker and nobody would have believed her. Plus, she knew her fate would be sealed if she ever tried to tell the truth. She was killed in the early 80’s under unsolved circumstances.
In the end, there has yet to be one book or documentary about Sam that gets it right. Why? As long as Sam has been dead, the powers that be will still not allow the truth to come out and any attempts to get too close aren’t worth the consequences. Same with Elvis, Otis Redding, James Brown, MJ, Prince and a long list of music and film legends who either passed too soon or whose passing never made sense or added up.
Sam Cooke’s legacy, luckily, has endured through his once in 100 lifetimes voice and music….and because he still turns handsome annual profits for the powers that be from beyond the grave 55 years after his earthly demise.
In summation, Sam Cooke was killed. Beaten to death and shot after death to set up the official story. The LAPD were in on it as was anyone in connection with his death….including his brother LC Cook who received a lifelong “allowance” from Allen Klein’s companies that afforded LC a comfortable life until his death in 2017! No explanation was ever given for this generous “gift” from the man who orchestrated his brothers’ murder.
Sam Cooke played and lost the game of fame. They all do. The entertainment industry is like a Vegas Casino. You may win millions but, in the end, they take it all back. The house always wins.

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Anonymous June 9, 2019 at 6:40 am

Sadly, I don’t think Sam will ever receive justice. His death photo is actually a mob signature. Not only was his court case one-sided so were the media reports on him. His story has been suppressed for decades by the same industry that made him a star. Sam Cooke was as big as Elvis back in the day and he was actually offered the opportunity to headline in Las Vegas right before his demise. The mob owned the music industry back in the day and still does. Which leads me to believe he pissed the mob off. The 60s were a time of very strong racial prejudice and segregation. Jim Crow laws were in full affect during that time. Sam did and said alot of things that most black man during that era would have been too scared. I read he didn’t pay for the $14,000 giant poster of himself when he did Live at the Copa and he was supposed to (the copacabana was mafia owned). He thought that they should pay for it, he was approached by a few people in the industry urging him to pay for the poster but he refused. Allen Klein, his manager and accountant was helping him to get back paid royalties that were mysteriously withheld from previous record companies for FREE (?). The record labels had to pay Sam 2 large sums of money back that Klein discovered was withheld. He stopped paying for promotion (another thing the mob required purchase through them). Mind you it was unheard for a black man to do these things and get away with it. Sam didn’t need to rape any woman, he was the most handsome guy of his era. All types of women lined up to see him, touch him, or get a hug from him. His blood alcohol level was .14 at his time of death and he was shot execution style. There have been several books and documentaries about him. I personally enjoyeded the book that his best buddy Leroy Crume wrote, “Me and Sam.” All that being said, anyone with common sense can look at the facts regarding his case and immediately see that he was setup. To date no legal representative in the state of California will reopen his case. His family and friends have asked all the same questions that you have posted. The media only wants everyone to believe he was a womanizer and everything else is just a conspiracy. All those logical questions are just conspiracy related and he did it to himself. He was not a saint but he did NOT deserve to die the way he did. Sam was intellectual, kind, jovial, and a musical genius. He had a good heart and soul, he was the king of soul music.

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DeeeDee June 9, 2019 at 6:40 am

I loved Sam Cooke. He’s my favorite singer of all time bc I never heard him sing a bad song. He was beaten to death and Bertha the pimp shot him after he was already beaten to death. Boyer was proven to be a murderer. Sam got no justice for These people killing him and stealing his money. it’s a shame he died the way he did and no one was ever charged for murder. I still listen to all of his songs and I sometimes cry bc justice was never given for him.

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Folma7 June 23, 2019 at 7:45 pm

I believed the “official” account of Sam’s death until I saw the wake photos. His hands are mangled beyond belief. This has never been explained.

Reply
Sonja R. July 17, 2019 at 6:39 pm

@J.A.Holland: Brilliant eye-opening analysis. Thank you very much, sir.

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