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The Elvis Presley Conspiracy (Part II): The Background

After Eliza Presley shared her DNA evidence with me, as well as the story about how she got it, I spent some time digging around to see what else was out there to corroborate or contradict her story.  Eliza's claim is that she's the daughter of Vernon Presley, the father of Elvis.  But she bases her claim, in part, on evidence from a man who Eliza believes actually IS Elvis Presley, still alive.  Eliza says she never suspected Elvis might be alive when she began her journey.

Rather, according to Eliza, she only wanted to find out who her father was.  Eliza was 13 when she learned that she was adopted as a baby.  Several years later, Eliza met her birth mother, who gave Eliza the name of a man who was supposedly her father.  But when Eliza contacted him, he was adamant he wasn't her father and didn't even know her mother in 1961.  Eliza had to look elsewhere.  Elvis with Eliza's mother and aunt

Later in life, she and her husband at the time had been shocked, when seeing pictures of Elvis as a young child, how much he looked like their three-year-old son, Andrew.  Eliza knew that her birth mother had lived across the street from Elvis at Graceland shortly after he bought it in 1957-58 and had been friends with his family [see picture of Elvis and Eliza's birth mother and aunt]. 

Eliza's husband even suggested that Elvis may have been the father, because she shared a family resemblance ... not to mention the fact that Eliza was the only one of four children given up for adoption. 

So Eliza had wondered for some time if she could be the daughter of Elvis.  But she never bought into the whole "Elvis is alive" movement when she started her search.

People who believe that Elvis did not die on August 16, 1977 like to point to a book published in 2001 and written by a board-certified psychiatrist named Dr. Donald Hinton.  He wrote it with a mysterious co-author named "Jesse."  Dr. Hinton claimed Jesse was actually Elvis, having faked his death with the help of his manger, Colonel Tom Parker.  "Jessie", by the way, was the name of Elvis' identical twin brother who was stillborn.

According to Dr. Hinton, Jesse had to get away from the life of Elvis for several reasons, primarily because of his poor health and due to threats against him and his family.  Col. Parker agreed to help because he could earn lots of money from doing so, Dr. Hinton said.  Indeed, Elvis has been at or near the top of Forbes' list of the highest earning dead celebrities for years.

Dr. Hinton said he treated Jesse for nearly six years for pain management due to his arthritic condition and other medical problems.  He claimed that Jesse opened up to him and told him of his true identity.  His book included many handwritten letters by Jesse and said it was Jesse's way of re-introducing himself to the world.

There were a few problems with Dr. Hinton's story.  One was that he promised during interviews he did about the book that Elvis/Jesse would reveal himself to the world in 2002.  Obviously, that never happened. 

Another was that the book led to an investigations of Dr. Hinton for mail fraud, by the Missouri Attorney General's office, as well as by the DEA, and by the Missouri State Board of Healing Arts for illegally prescribing medications to a patient he had never met in person.  Dr. Hinton actually surrendered his ability to prescribe medicine and was placed on 5 years probation by the medical board.

But the Dr. Hinton investigation did lead to an interesting place.  When Dr. Hinton came under attack, his patient, Jesse, wrote a letter to the Attorney General supporting Dr. Hinton and refuting the mail fraud claims.  He included the following in his letter: 

Sir, I don't know if you believe in my continued existence or not, but if I continue to expose myself like I did in the book, I will be eliminated very easily.  Pure and simple as that.

The Attorney General's office had the letter analyzed by a special type of handwriting expert, Shirley Mason, who was a certified graphologist.  Graphology is commonly used by the FBI and throughout Europe, but is not universally accepted. 

Mason worked for the Kansas City Bureau of Investigations for many years, successfully using graphology as evidence in criminal court cases.  Shirley Mason reported that she compared the Jesse letter, and other documents written by him, to past letters written by Elvis.  So what did she have to say about it?

Not only did they match, Mason wrote, but she would testify in court, under oath, that Elvis "has to be ALIVE."  She felt the handwriting was "UNMISTAKABLE".  The Attorney General's office dismissed the charges against Dr. Hinton and the DEA never brought charges against him.

Here's a website by Linda Hood-Sigmon, who is a friend of Jesse, showing copies of the Jesse letter and the Mason report. 

Hood-Sigmon is one of the biggest proponents of the "Elvis is alive" theory and has a great deal of evidence on her website.  She points to this picture of Jesse and says it was taken on a visit to Lisa Marie Presley so he could see his grandchildren.  Eliza_jesse_benjaminShe states that the controversial photograph marks the first time Jesse met his grandson, Benjamin Storm, in 1994. 

But Hood-Sigmon and others who say Elvis is alive do have many vocal critics.  Here's an example of a recent article written by one who tries to debunk some of the evidence that Elvis didn't really die.  But, he doesn't address any DNA evidence in his article or the Mason report.  Instead, he summarily concludes that "one side has no facts and no evidence" and as such, there shouldn't even be a debate.

Others see it differently.  In fact, because of Dr. Hinton's book, a  television reporter in Cleveland, Suzanne Stratford, began investigating.

She interviewed Dr. Hinton on camera and analyzed the evidence, including the Mason report, a picture taken 6 months after the funeral of what looked like Elvis peering through a screen door (and certified by Kodak), and the fact Elvis' tombstone lists his middle name as "Aaron" when official records show his true middle name to be "Aron".  [See the pictures below on this point].  Stratford also reported that Dr. Hinton had passed a lie detector test they had administered.Elvis funeral card

And there's more.  Stratford reported she was contacted by Jesse.  She asked for, and received, a sample of Jesse's DNA, in 2002, so it could be tested.  FOX 8 News did in fact test the DNA sample against known "control" samples of Elvis, including a 1975 liver biopsy sample and tissue from his autopsy.  The problem was that they didn't match.ElvisGrave

But again, another interesting turn.  Not only did the "Jesse" sample not match the other two samples, but they didn't match each other.  In other words, Elvis' autopsy tissue did not match the liver tissue from 1975. 

So where did the autopsy sample come from?  Does this mean that Elvis' autopsy was faked?  Maybe.  Stratford also interviewed cousins of Elvis who said that the body at the funeral looked like it was made out of wax, rather than being real.

But, of course, there's only one person alive (other than Jesse, of course) who can definitively prove or disprove that Jesse is Elvis ... Elvis' daughter.  FOX 8 News contacted Lisa Marie Presley's representatives and asked for a sample of her DNA to find out the truth.  She declined.

The FOX 8 News video stories are available on YouTube.  Here's the one from 2008 that summarizes Stratford's investigation up until the Eliza Presley case.  Her previous investigation stalled in 2004, until Eliza Presley contacted her 2008.  Apparently, an Elvis collector, David Collins, repeatedly suggested that Eliza get in touch with Stratford when Eliza had contacted him as part of her search for Elvis' DNA to test against her own for paternity.

At first, Eliza didn't contact Stratford, still thinking that Elvis couldn't actually be alive.  But, then she did reach out to Stratford, hoping to test her DNA against other Elvis samples FOX 8 News had.

In 2008 Stratford interviewed Eliza Presley as part of her ongoing investigation.  FOX 8 News sent the 2002 sample it had received from Jesse to a lab so that it could be tested against Eliza's DNA evidence.

And the results were . . . 

(To be continued . . . )

[This is the second of a four-part series covering the Eliza Presley case.  You can read Part I here and Part III here]

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!  and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at awmayoras @

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