The location in the bathroom where Elvis was discovered by Ginger Alden has typically been referenced as somewhere around the center of the room, equidistant between the west wall and the counter (which is on the east side of the room), with the upper body generally towards the counter. We see this location in the scenes from “This Is Elvis,” and though the body is slightly more north-to-south, the location is still the center of the room.
Joe Esposito describes it this way in “Good Rockin’ Tonight”:
Also from “Good Rockin’ Tonight”:
Joe Esposito, describing the position of the body to the Memphis Police Department detective:
“…he [Esposito] found the victim slumped over in front of the commode with his head lying against the wall, and also a chair that was in front of the commode.”
From this view/angle/position, Esposito was able to note that the tongue had been bitten. This view indicates that the head was turned to the right, on the left side/cheek, towards the counter. Esposito then “turned the victim over” and saw that the arms and legs were stiff.
Also from the Memphis Police Department Incident Report: “[Al Strada] found Elvis lying [on] the floor in front of the commode.”
These descriptions have Elvis’s body directly in front of the toilet, with his body very close to the west wall of the bathroom.
These descriptions do not match what we see in “This Is Elvis,” for which Esposito was a consultant.
From Ginger Alden’s book:
This description, from the person who found the body, has the face turned to the left, which would mean the right cheek was against the floor. But the location of the body is directly in front of the toilet, which matches what Esposito described.
Over the years, the claims regarding the place Elvis fell to the floor, and the place the paramedics saw the body, have varied slightly, with most accounts placing the body in roughly the middle of the room, with the upper portion of the body closer to the counter. The shoulders, then, would have been angled slightly towards the door to the bedroom. But if we examine the locations/placement of the toilet and the chair a bit more closely, we may find that the body was not in the middle of the room, but was over along the west wall, between the toilet and the chair. Let’s map this out:
The toilet in Elvis’s bathroom faces north, and is in the SW corner of the room. To the right of the toilet is the door, so that if you walked through the door from the bedroom you would see the toilet to your sharp left, exactly west of where you would be standing. Directly next to the toilet, on the west wall, are (I believe) two phones, presumably one with an outside line, the other part of the internal intercom system.
In front of the toilet (in 1977) is the large chair which faces east, towards the counter. This chair, from what can be ascertained from research and not-to-scale lay-out drawings, is directly below the bathroom window and about three feet from the toilet.
Just north of the main window, a mirror on the west wall is visible in the well-known Jeanne LeMay photo from 1973, though whether it was still there in 1977 is unknown to me. Also visible in this photo is the circular shower and the countertop/sink. In the background we can see the clothes hanging along the reconstructed wall running west to east, and a shelf above those clothes. The window on the far left (ref. JL photo) is the inside window from the second bedroom, which became part of the bathroom/lounge when the room was re-done. Looking at it this way, then, the bathroom has two windows. (The window in the LeMay photo is behind the light/dull purple-ish curtain on the left next to the white stool.)
So going back to the question of where Elvis’s body was when it was discovered, Ginger, Al, and Joe describe it as being between the toilet and chair (below, green check), with Elvis’s body facing north and his head next to the west wall and the chair to the north. The body was not in the middle of the room facing the counter (below, red X), slightly angled towards the door, as the reporting has suggested. (And, yes, that is the position I have worked with, as well.)
A few important points: if Elvis’s body was “turned over” by Joe Esposito, then the body literally had to have been rolled from a kneeling position with the upper front of the body touching the floor, to a position with the back of the body on the floor. With Elvis’s face on its left side, facing east towards the counter, this would have required the body to turn 180-degrees, with the head/face turning slightly more than 180-degrees. When the body came to rest, then, it still should have been positioned south(feet)-to-north(head).
[As noted above, Ginger says the face was on its right side. But that would mean the face was turned to the left, and thus she could not have seen his mouth/eyes since the face would have been towards the west wall. If she turned his face/head, however, then her view would have obviously changed. Did she turn the head so that when Esposito saw the body the face was visible, and on its left side?]
When Dan Warlick was in the bathroom in his role as Medical Examiner’s Investigator, he said he laid down on the bathroom floor with his head positioned where he says he found (what he described as) vomit and saliva, and with his 6′ frame his feet were still several feet short of touching the toilet bowl. Because of this positioning based on the location of the vomit, Warlick opined that Elvis had “crawled several feet” from the location where he was stricken. But, and this is critical, Ginger Alden, Al Strada, and Joe Esposito all place the location of the body upon discovery between the toilet and the chair, along the west wall. If Warlick found vomit on the floor near the center of the room (this is a question I address elsewhere), and Elvis’s upper body was ~6 feet west from that location when it was discovered by Ginger (and described by Al and Joe), then what was the fluid/material Warlick identified as “a mixture of vomitus and saliva”? Simply stated, Warlick identified fluid on the floor in the middle of the room, while at least three of the people to initially see Elvis’s body place his head/face ~6 feet away, on the left side of the room. This is where his body would have been located when he died. And if the body was moved to the center of the room after having been turned over by Joe, then the body was on its back the entire time (thus no fluid transfer from mouth to carpet).
(Note: Warlick’s account requires us to believe that the bathroom was cleaned between 2:46pm and the time Warlick and the detectives arrived shortly after 4:00pm, yet the persons cleaning the room missed this spot on the carpet.)
Warlick also speculated that the location of the body (middle of room) indicated/suggested that Elvis had taken several steps before collapsing. If the body was found in front of the toilet, though, this would not have been the case. In fact, if the body is described by any of the later eyewitness as having been in the middle of the room (above, red X), then it had to have been moved (dragged) there, based on the initial location descriptions from Ginger, Al, and Joe.
So, given this re-assessment of the position and location of the body when Ginger first entered the bathroom, we must return to the claim by Nancy Rooks that she went upstairs and saw Elvis’s reflection in a mirror that hung along the west wall. (See, “Rooks: The Excursion.”) If the body was next to the west wall between the toilet and the chair, with the head and shoulders closest to Rooks’s position on the north side of the bathroom area (but not actually in the bathroom), then she would not have been able to see Elvis in the reflection of the mirror. The location of the body that Rooks describes is the “official” position of the body during the resuscitation efforts, but is not the location of the body at the time Rooks claims to have viewed the body. Since Rooks says she went upstairs immediately after Ginger called for assistance, Rooks’s claim places her looking into the bathroom after the call from Ginger but before the arrival of Strada. The body, then, had not yet been moved.
Rooks, from “Inside Graceland”:
“It appeared that he had been sitting on the commode and had apparently tried to stand up, taken a few steps, and then fallen forward onto the carpet. His pajama bottoms were down around his ankles, and I could see his bare behind pointing slightly up into the air.”
The scene Rooks describes here is the scene that has been described by others after the body had been moved to the center of the room. (Interestingly, no one ever uses the word “moved,” and in fact, no one ever comments on how the body got to the center of the room from the west side of the room.) Remember, the first three eyewitnesses describe the location of the body as being next to the west wall, between the toilet and the chair, not in the center of the room. This, in my view, indicates that Rooks is describing the scene as she has heard about it over the years, or read about it, the critical error being that she is describing something that hadn’t yet occurred.