Woman Who Tried to Murder MLK Now Lives in a Nursing Home in Queens

Illustration for article titled Woman Who Tried to Murder MLK Now Lives in a Nursing Home in Queens

In September 1958, nearly a decade before James Earl Ray fatally shot Martin Luther King, Jr, a woman named Izola Curry tried to kill the civil rights leader with a letter opener. After evading the press for decades, she's now been found—in a nursing home in Queens.

Before the attempted murder, a delusional Curry, according to The Smoking Gun, was sure that Dr. King was trying to kill her. She stuffed a gun in her bra and a sharp letter opener into her purse and marched over to one of Dr. King's appearances in New York City.

Convinced that King and NAACP leaders were surveilling her and conspiring to deny her employment, the delusional Curry approached the civil rights leader as he sat in a Harlem department store signing copies of his first book. She plunged the letter opener deep into the 29-year-old King's chest after asking him, "Why do you annoy me?"


She pierced King's main vein, which caused internal bleeding. King was rushed to Harlem Hospital, where doctors were able to save him. Curry was quickly apprehended by police. The New York Times reported that had Dr. King even sneezed he could've bled to death.

Back in police custody, Curry was so clear in her delusion that King and his supporters were out to get her and had made her lose her job—she didn't know any of them personally—that she was committed to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in a place called Fishkill, New York. The Smoking Gun had been trying to locate Curry for years and finally tracked her down to a nursing home, living like your average 98-year-old person, watching The Price is Right and taking lots of naps.

But back in 1958, Curry almost beat Ray to the punch and changed the course of American history.

Image via Getty.

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MomsTinfoilHat shields her in the grays

Not to belittle a serious article, but "main vein"? I hate being the default medical editor on the site (what am I saying, I'm in the grays and my comments are usually ignored by the writers) but "main vein" is slang for the penis, and that's the only way I've ever heard it used. There is a rather large vein in the body called the vena cava, which might have been pierced, but I'm not sure. Maybe you can call it a "major vein"?