The Hurricane Tapes: Eldridge Hawkins, Annie Haggins and a new cast of characters

By Joel Hammer & Steve CrossmanBBC Sport World Service
A triple murder. A guilty verdict. Forty hours of tape recordings from Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter tell the real story

"Nobody wanted my truth to come out."

Just when we thought we'd found out everything there was to find out about this case, just as we were preparing to wrap up the series and draw our conclusions, we discovered something - and someone - that had the potential to change everything.

Throughout this series we have had a thought at the back of our minds: if John Artis and Rubin Carter did not commit these murders then the best way to conclusively exonerate them would be to find the killers. That thought has driven us to many places and to many people, but none have been more significant than Eldridge Hawkins.

New Jersey is known mainly for its conurbations - Atlantic City, Newark, Trenton and, of course, Paterson, where the murders took place - but it's also called 'the Garden State' because of its hundreds of rural townships.

We visited one such place to meet Tom Vicedomini, the grandson of one of the victims. He lives in a small place, perched on the shore of a big lake, where nothing much seems to happen. When we left, we never thought we would be back. Why would we be?

Yet here we are again. Why? Well, much to our surprise, this crucial character who will move front and centre in our telling of the full story of the Lafayette Bar and Grill murders lives in the same tiny town, no more than a mile from Vicedomini.

Hawkins looks grandfatherly. He's small, kindly looking, and is wearing comfortable clothes when we meet. A lawyer and former politician, he was an assemblyman in New Jersey when, in 1975, Governor Brendan Byrne tasked him with investigating the Carter and Artis case after receiving a petition to grant them clemency.

We settle down in Hawkins' kitchen overlooking the lake. His wife Linda, who's writing a book about her husband's investigations, is with us. Over the next few hours we hear an alternative theory about the crime that we haven't heard before. Hawkins is angry his findings have been - in his eyes - ignored for over 40 years.

What we talk about is nothing short of extraordinary. A whole new cast of characters, theories and conspiracies come to the fore - but that's not for here, that's for the podcast.

We will give you one little tease, though. Hawkins puts us on to a new witness, who claims she was in the bar when the crime happened. The story of Annie Haggins, and the new suspects she names, will become a major focus from here on.

On our way out of town, we stop at a coffee shop. The owner remembers us from our first trip - it's not every day he has a couple of English guys wander in, let alone do so twice in the space of a couple of months.

As the place fills up we wonder whether Vicedomini and Hawkins have ever sat at neighbouring tables in this cafe with no idea they both have a very close attachment to one of New Jersey's most infamous crimes.

An excerpt from the secret grand jury testimony of Annie Haggins
An excerpt from the secret grand jury testimony of Annie Haggins

Each week, BBC Sport will publish a new article to coincide with the latest episode of The Hurricane Tapes. A longer feature piece on the BBC World Service's investigation will then be published at the end of the podcast series. The tapes had been missing for nearly 10 years since author Ken Klonsky recorded a series of conversations with Carter for his book Eye Of The Hurricane: My Path From Darkness To Freedom. The audio contained in the tapes has not previously been heard by anyone other than Ken and Rubin Carter.