9137 S. Figueroa Street, in south-central Los Angeles: site of the former Hacienda Motel (now called the Star Motel), where popular singer Sam Cooke ("You Send Me," "Wonderful World," "Another Saturday Night") was shot death in December of 1964 by a motel manager armed with .22 pistol.

Cooke had taken a woman to the seedy motel, and after the shooting she claimed that he had tried to rape her. However, evidence suggests that she may have been a prostitute who may have tried to rob Cooke, leading to the chase. When Cooke broke down the door of the manager's office, where he mistakenly believed the woman had gone, the shocked manager shot him. See where the motel was located HERE

It was found as a justified homicide. But I think it is time for a reinvestigation of this cold case. Maybe there might be DNA evidence? Or maybe all parties are deceased at this time. It sure was a shocking way to lose such a legend as Sam Cooke "The King Of Soul"

 The details of the case involving Cooke's death are still in dispute. The official police record states that Cooke was shot dead by Bertha Franklin, manager of the Hacienda Motel, where Cooke had checked in earlier that evening. Franklin claimed that Cooke had broken into the manager's office-apartment in a rage, wearing nothing but a shoe and a sports coat demanding to know the whereabouts of a woman who had accompanied him to the hotel.

Franklin said that the woman was not in the office and that she told Cooke this, but the enraged Cooke did not believe her and violently grabbed her, demanding again to know the woman's whereabouts.

According to Franklin, she grappled with Cooke, the two of them fell to the floor, and she then got up and ran to retrieve her gun. She said that she then fired at Cooke in self-defense, because she feared for her life. Cooke was struck once in the torso, and according to Franklin, he exclaimed, "Lady, you shot me," before mounting a last charge at her. She said that she beat him over his head with a broomstick before he finally fell, mortally wounded by the gunshot.

 According to Franklin and to the motel's owner, Evelyn Carr, they had been on the telephone together at the time of the incident. Thus, Carr claimed to have overheard Cooke's intrusion and the ensuing conflict and gunshots. Carr called the police to request that they go to the motel, informing them that she believed a shooting had occurred.

A coroner's inquest was convened to investigate the incident. The woman who had accompanied Cooke to the motel was identified as Elisa Boyer, who had also called the police that night shortly before Carr. Boyer had called the police from a telephone booth near the motel, telling them she had just escaped being kidnapped.

Boyer told the police that she had first met Cooke earlier that night and had spent the evening in his company. She claimed that after they left a local nightclub together, she had repeatedly requested that he take her home, but he instead took her against her will to the Hacienda Motel.

She claimed that once in one of the motel's rooms, Cooke physically forced her onto the bed and that she was certain he was going to rape her. According to Boyer, when Cooke stepped into the bathroom for a moment, she quickly grabbed her clothes and ran from the room. She claimed that in her haste, she had also scooped up most of Cooke's clothing by mistake. 

She said that she ran first to the manager's office and knocked on the door seeking help. However, she said that the manager took too long in responding, so, fearing Cooke would soon be coming after her, she fled the motel altogether before the manager ever opened the door. She claimed she then put her own clothing back on, hid Cooke's clothing, and went to the telephone booth from which she called police.

                                                                   Etta James

In her autobiography, Rage to Survive, singer Etta James claimed that she viewed Cooke's body in the funeral home and that the injuries she observed were well beyond what could be explained by the official account of Franklin alone having fought with Cooke. James described Cooke as having been so badly beaten that his head was nearly separated from his shoulders, his hands were broken and crushed, and his nose mangled. No concrete evidence supporting a conspiracy theory has been presented to date.

Boyer's story is the only account of what happened between the two that night; however, her story has long been called into question. Inconsistencies between her version of events and details reported by other witnesses, as well as circumstantial evidence (e.g., cash that Cooke was reportedly carrying was never recovered, and Boyer was soon after arrested for prostitution), invited speculation that Boyer may have gone willingly to the motel with Cooke, then slipped out of the room with Cooke's clothing in order to rob him, rather than to escape an attempted rape.

Such questions were ultimately deemed beyond the scope of the inquest,whose purpose was to establish the circumstances of Franklin's role in the shooting, not to determine precisely what had transpired between Cooke and Boyer preceding the event.

Boyer's leaving the motel room with almost all of Cooke's clothing, regardless of exactly why she did so, combined with the fact that tests showed Cooke was inebriated at the time, provided what inquest jurors deemed a plausible explanation for Cooke's bizarre behavior and state of dress, as reported by Franklin and Carr.

This explanation, in conjunction with the fact that Carr's testimony corroborated Franklin's version of events, and the fact that police officials testified that both Boyer and Franklin had passed lie detector tests, was enough to convince the coroner's jury to accept Franklin's explanation, and return a verdict of justifiable homicide. With that verdict, authorities officially closed the case on Cooke's death.

Some of Cooke's family and supporters, however, have rejected Boyer's version of events, as well as those given by Franklin and Carr. They believe that there was a conspiracy to murder Cooke and that the murder took place in some manner entirely different from the three official accounts.

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My favorite Sam Cooke Song:



  1. What a brilliant voice he had. My favorite Sam Cooke song..."A Change is Gonna Come.

  2. Really an interesting story about Sam Cooke. I was only 5 at the time of his death, never heard that story, bizarre...

  3. Daaaaaaammmmm, Sam Cooke...

  4. Topher Crowder7/27/2010 8:40 PM

    Don't know much about self defense...

  5. Mitch Wilcher7/27/2010 8:41 PM

    Another great voice senselessy taken too soon!

  6. "I love that guy."

  7. Thanks for posting this story Kim

  8. YW Kinks! Good to see you... I see your son Gabe alot these days! The Sam Cooke was an interesting one. Stupid but interesting. I think he was drugged then robbed. But who is to say now?

  9. that hotel story is pure rubbish

  10. that was a big cover up

  11. Sam Cooke by far was man...i still enjoy listening to his music..but to this day i truly believe his death was a cover-up...he was a cool looking guy why would he need to rape any woman???


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