Continued from “Dr. Nichopoulos: Arrival @ Graceland 8/16/77

Dr. Nichopoulos stated numerous times that when he was paged on August 16, 1977, with the alert from Graceland, he immediately called back and spoke with Joe Esposito. Let’s walk through this again.

First, some pertinent information on the technology involved:

1970s: Tone and voice pagers were invented. They’re known as digital voice paging (DVP) today because an audio message follows the tone alert (info).

A Motorola Dimension IV voice pager is seen here, likely the model (or similar) used in 1977:

The voice pager, or voice beeper, is the device that Dr. Nichopoulos was using on 8/16/77 as he made his rounds at Doctors Hospital. As described above, the voice pager is a device that alerts a doctor to a call, and a caller’s message is recorded and sent to the device. The doctor then listens to the message from the device; there is no call-back required in terms of receiving the initial information/alert. In Nichpoulos’s 1979 deposition, here is the exchange pertaining to the voice pager:

“Q: And what information did you receive that caused you to become aware of this — Mr. Presley’s condition?

A: I was paged on my pager that something had happened to Elvis and get out to the house as fast as I could.

Q: When you were paged, is that a beeper type of pager?

A: Yes.

Q: And you, upon being signaled through your device, went to a telephone and called your office?

A: No.

Q: Well, who gave you the word — who told you that you were to go out to the house as soon as possible?

A: It’s a voice beeper.

Q: And who was on the other end of this communication?

A: I don’t remember.

Q: Was it somebody from your office —

A: No.

Q: – – or is this a central clearinghouse?

A: No, somebody at Elvis’ house.

Q: It was somebody at Elvis’ house that was calling you on this — essentially a wireless telephone; is that correct?

A: That’s right.

Q: And what did they tell you?

A: Just what I said, that something had happened to him and to come out there.


Q: And did you go to the Presley home?

A: Yes.”

You will notice that in the deposition, Dr. Nichopoulos does not refer to a phone called placed by him to Graceland. He may have made such a call, but he doesn’t mention it. He merely says that he received a page with a voice message, and that the message instructed him to go to Graceland due to an emergency. In his 2009 book, however, Nichopoulos tells us that he headed “promptly to the nearest telephone and [punched] in the number [to Graceland].” Nichopoulos goes on to describe this exchange:

[Recall that in 1979 Nichopoulos didn’t remember the identity of the person who called him, as discussed here.]

So in this call, initiated by Dr. Nichopoulos from Doctors Hospital, and described 32 years later, Nichopoulos speaks with Joe Esposito, and the two have a brief discussion regarding the emergency. Not only does Nichopoulos mention the phone call, he also includes the content of that call, and the identity of the person with whom he was speaking.

In his 1979 deposition, given under oath, this call is not mentioned.

And from Joe Esposito’s book, where Esposito says he caught Dr. Nichopoulos by phone just as he was leaving on a house call: “Elvis had a heart attack! Get out here now!”

And from The Commerical Appeal (Beth Tamke) shortly after Elvis’s death, we have this:

In this exchange, Dr. Nichopoulos “guesses” that he spoke with Joe Esposito when he (Dr. N) called Graceland after receiving the pager message. Dr. Nichopoulos says that Esposito told him that the Fire Department ambulance was there, while in his 2009 book, he says that Esposito said he had called for an ambulance. In the book, then, this call can be placed before 2:33pm; in the newspaper article, this call can be placed after 2:33pm.

Again, from his sworn deposition, Nichopoulos does not mention this call, and in fact indicates that such a call was not made, and that such a call was not necessary due to messages being available through the voice pager.

This all takes us back to the discussion about Nichopoulos’s arrival at Graceland, and how he knew to go there without the knowledge that the ambulance would still be there when he arrived. That is, if Nichopoulos received a voice message through his voice pager at ~2:31pm-2:32pm, why did he then drive 13 minutes to Graceland unless he was certain that Elvis would still be there? A voice message from Esposito simply alerted Nichopoulos to the emergency, and was a one-way communication. So did Nichopoulos call Graceland and advise Esposito to have the ambulance wait for him, or did Esposito advise Nichopoulos via the voice message that they would wait until he arrived? Either way, there had to have been some means by which Nichopoulos knew that he should go to Graceland, regardless of the travel time, as opposed to going to the nearest emergency room, which would have been Methodist South. Nichopoulos knew that they were not headed to Baptist.

Did Nichopoulos actually call Graceland and tell Esposito to have the ambulance wait for him, or did Esposito tell Nichopoulos (via the voice pager) that they would wait for him? The key here is that Nichopoulos had to have known the ambulance would be waiting. But how did he know, if he did not speak with Esposito?

The next obvious question is, if there was some sort of agreement or acknowledgement that the ambulance would wait for Nichopoulos, was there truly any urgency in getting Elvis to a hospital? (In their respective interviews with police, both Al Strada and Ginger Alden said that Esposito had determined the victim to be dead, or had stated as such.)