Dick Grob and his supporters have said for years that Grob’s investigation into Elvis’s death, as (supposedly) requested by Vernon Presley, was a top-notch investigative tour de force, with no stones left unturned. According to these folks, and to Grob himself, Grob looked at everything and everyone, even the autopsy report he was unable to access, and came to the conclusion that, well, no one really did anything wrong, but maybe a few people could have done a few things differently. Oh, and that Ginger did something really, really bad, they just can’t figure out exactly what. Let’s look at some questions that should have been asked, and some people who should have been interviewed, and some police/security work that should have been done, and let’s see if Grob actually investigated anything (other than James Kirk’s notes).
When Elvis died, there was what can only be described as a drug operation running at Graceland. Let’s not mince words or play around with semantics. Dr. Nichopoulos was illegally providing and storing and dispensing medications outside any curative protocol, the pharmacist at The Prescription House was playing along, and the onsite
nurse staff drug provider was acting in furtherance of this arrangement. Let’s also not beat around the bush and deny or obfuscate the fact that Elvis was addicted to these medications, and everyone in his life knew it. Everyone.
So a known medical addict suddenly dies alone in his bathroom, at a time when one of his personal aides (Rick Stanley) should have been in close proximity to him, and the former Palm Springs police officer who runs security is asked to investigate the death. First, in terms of his position as Security Chief, can anyone explain why Dick Grob had in his employ two known, admitted drug addicts, those being Rick Stanley and David Stanley? Grob certainly knew these two employees were drug addicts yet he allowed them to work for Elvis in a number of capacities. If David Stanley was acting as a bodyguard after a concert, for example, did Grob know that Stanley was sober and capable of protecting Elvis? Other than karate (as a combat sport) did David Stanley have any training in this type of work? What about training for security threats? Physical attacks? Risk identification and analysis? Did Rick Stanley have any of this training? What about Larry Geller? Joe Esposito? Al Strada? Sam Thompson? Any of these guys? This was, after all, the group of men who surrounded Elvis when he was going to and from venues and various locations during that last year or so, but were any of them actually trained and qualified? Whose responsibility was it to screen these employees and provide them training? Dick Grob’s, presumably. He was the Security Chief.
We won’t even discuss the fact that Grob…the Chief of Security…had stationed at the front entrance to Elvis’s estate a handful of older, unarmed men (one per shift) who could have easily been physically compromised by a small child or a particularly robust gust of wind. Think about that…Elvis is concerned about threats and the possibility of assassination, and guarding his property is…Uncle Vester. With the gate open. Taking people up to the house for photos. Really? (No offense, Vester.)
And what about 8- or 9-year old Lisa Marie (in 1976-1977) riding around the nearly 14 acres of Graceland by herself in a golf cart, unaccompanied by an adult or any type of security? Did the Security Chief think that was wise? Or was it considered safe because Vester was stationed in his guardhouse chair at the (open) gate?
Was anyone stationed at other points on the property as part of a comprehensive security posture? Or was it sufficient to just ask Ossie Nicholson to walk around the grounds every now and then and make sure everything was OK?
Early Graceland Gate Security (pre-Grob):
Later Graceland Gate Security (~Grob era):
And what about the CCTV set-up? Was the system used to simply monitor the front gate? To monitor various rooms in the house? Did the CCTV system record the activity at the gate for any substantive period of time? Or was it just a live feed so someone in the house could see the gate? Unless the system recorded the activity, and the recorded video could be accessed and examined, then there was little use for the CCTV system as a security tool.
Switching gears a bit, did Dick Grob investigate the Stanley brothers? I don’t mean the perfunctory exercise of asking a few questions, I mean did he investigate their actions, associations, movements, and statements from that critical time period? Did the Stanleys know where the drug stash was kept in the Henley trailer? Did their friends know about these drugs in the trailer? Did they know that Henley’s drug storage security set-up was “overnight bag under lock and key”? Did the Stanleys have any connections with criminal/drug elements in Memphis, specifically in Whitehaven, during that time period? Who else was using drugs in the Stanley circle of friends? Did any of those people have these criminal connections? Did these people carry weapons? Did they visit Graceland, inside the home? Were they armed then? Were they bringing drugs into the house? Did they know whether Elvis had a stash of prescription drugs in his upstairs suite? Did these people know that Elvis supposedly used only pills, and not other “street” drugs? How would they have known this?
Were the Stanley brothers using “street” drugs? Were they open to blackmail or compromise?
Did Dick Grob look at the drug packets that were delivered to Elvis? Were the drugs being swapped out/replaced? Were they ever stolen outright? Who was delivering these drugs? Again, we know that at least two known drug addicts were delivering these drugs to Elvis. Was Grob not interested in this? The security of the estate, and the security of Elvis personally, were the responsibility of Dick Grob, and part of that security is knowing what is going on with drug use, drug deliveries, drug storage, etc. This was not the sole responsibility of Dr. Nichopoulos, or Tish Henley, this was a situation that should have been addressed by all parties, headed by the Security Chief. Any evidence Grob kept an eye on this? No.
Did Dick Grob investigate Dr. Nichopoulos and “Nurse” Henley? Of course he didn’t. Why not? The answer is obvious. Has anyone ever wondered how Grob reconciled the fact that he was employed by the Palm Springs Police Department through mid-1975, and yet he was right in the middle of a small-scale drug operation during that same time period, and did nothing? Let that sink in. A police officer working for a man who has a serious drug problem, drugs are being shipped in from other states, drug addicts are on the payroll and are handling drugs onsite nearly every day, and Dr. Nichopoulos and his staff are breaking various laws left and right, and this police officer…the Security Chief…does…nothing.
And when Grob’s employer suddenly dies, due in part to the abuse of these drugs, the deceased man’s father asks Grob to investigate the death (of all people, the Security Chief was the man who should have known what was going on, right?), and the only thing Grob can come up with is, “blah blah blah Ginger Alden blah blah blah.” Great police work, right? Forget about the laws being broken and the drugs being abused literally right in front of Grob’s face, the only thing his sleuthing can uncover is a half-baked load of nonsense about the girlfriend. Good gravy. And the fans hail him as an investigative genius.
Note: An investigation where the investigator is investigating his friends is not really an investigation, is it? Nor is an investigation the exercise of trying to pin something on someone you don’t particularly like. For these two points alone Dick Grob should have been the last person on Earth “investigating” Elvis’s death.
What about other doctors…did Grob make any calls to “friends” about Dr. Shapiro or Dr. Ghanem? He could contact “friends” for phone records (to go after Ginger), so I am assuming he could do the same for more serious facets of an investigation, right? And what about the dentist, did he provide any drugs to Elvis? We’ve heard that he did, but did Grob look into this? Of course he didn’t.
Did Grob investigate the early morning prescription that Dr. Nichopoulos wrote for Elvis, for 6 Dilaudid? Did Grob think it was wise to have drug abuser Rick Stanley pick up and deliver this prescription (or any prescription)?
Was Elvis susceptible to blackmail? Were there any secrets that would have left him compromised? What about the rest of the group? The numerous men in the entourage cheating on their wives? What about Colonel Parker’s gambling debts? What about Grob himself?
When he was notified that Elvis had been taken by ambulance to Baptist Memorial Hospital, did Dick Grob go to Graceland and immediately ask questions, and secure the death scene? No, according to his own account, he went to Baptist where his services were not needed (a major full-service hospital is perfectly capable of handling its own security)*. Let’s say it again: the Graceland Security Chief…went to the hospital. Makes no sense.
[*Vernon supposedly asked Grob to start this investigation at some point soon after the death, so on the afternoon of Elvis’s death Grob was not acting on behalf of Vernon in terms of any investigation. However, Grob was Security Chief, so why didn’t he take it upon himself to address security issues and concerns at the scene of the death, instead of going to Baptist Hospital? After all, he had no authority at Baptist. No matter whether there was, in fact, anything that needed to be done immediately, Grob’s focus should have been on Graceland, not Baptist.]
Did Grob ask David Stanley why he and Mark White allegedly said, “We killed Elvis,” to Aurelia Dupont at her house down the street from Graceland 60-90 minutes before the body was reportedly discovered? That would have been a good (though rather bizarre) place to start, huh? Did Grob investigate why Rick Stanley, during his morning shift, was [somewhere in Memphis] passed out on Demerol? Are we to assume that this was the first and only time Rick had done this?*
*Do the math.
Did Grob keep track of people who visited inside Graceland, and with whom they visited? When someone had a guest over to the house, did Grob know about it? Who was in charge when Grob wasn’t present? Could someone have gotten close to Elvis while in the house? Did Elvis even know who was in and out of the house? Grob had said that he wasn’t sure who had been in the house just prior to Elvis’s death, but why is that an acceptable statement from the Security Chief? He boasts that he was Security Chief for Graceland and for Elvis Presley, so who was overseeing these numerous security issues and risks?
These are the things a Security Chief is supposed to do.
As I wrote in Evidence.1:
Quote from Dick Grob: “…I want to check everyone out, because almost anyone could have gotten close to Elvis and if something was done to him, then we need to be careful not to accuse the wrong person.”
This, from the Chief of Security.
“Almost anyone could have gotten close to Elvis…”
Are you kidding me? This guy worked Security? He was the Chief of Security…?
Did Grob “check everyone out”? Not even close.
Was Grob “careful not to accuse the wrong person.” Not even close.
Did Grob investigate the goings-on at the Howard Johnson motel down the street? There is no indication he did.
With so many security risks at play here, why did Grob not work with the phone company to keep a record of all calls in and out of Graceland, including all local calls? The reason is obvious.
Grob claimed he spoke with the maids about Ginger, but did he speak with them about why they cleaned up Elvis’s bathroom and bedroom? There’s no indication he did, and yet this is basic police work. The cleaning up of the bathroom/bedroom is far more important than whatever Ginger was doing.
“No evidence of ‘excessive drug use.'” This is probably why Grob would say he didn’t ask the maids why they cleaned up the bedroom and bathroom. Think about it.
Elvis was a gun aficionado, according to pretty much everyone. Were any security precautions in place for the storage and handling of weapons by Elvis, given that he may have sometimes not been in the proper state of mind to handle weapons? If overseeing these weapons wasn’t the job of the Security Chief, then whose job was it?
[Please don’t tell me that Elvis was his own man, and that Elvis was strong-willed, and that Elvis was gonna do what Elvis was gonna do…these attempts to rationalize Elvis’s behavior are tiresome. When a security risk is present, and when a safety risk is present, the issue must be dealt with, and if it is not dealt with directly, then some sort of secondary action must be taken. The notion that Elvis handled guns in such a way that he nearly shot Dr. Nichopoulos and Linda Thompson on separate occasions makes my head spin, and the fact that this became presumably “normal” in Elvis’s circle is tragic. I think that fans find it amusing in some way that Elvis shot his toilet, or shot his TV (Robert Goulet!), but when bullets are flying around and nearly hitting people, it’s not funny. Anyway, if the guns could not be controlled, then people should have come to their senses and done something. Where was the Security Chief?]
Grob claimed he had access to the autopsy report, then under oath admitted that he didn’t. For anyone who isn’t sure of what this is called, it’s called a “lie.” But we’ll skip this for now.
As an investigator it would have made sense to speak to the people involved in Elvis’s medical care that day. Did Grob speak with Crosby? Jones? Warlick? Any of the pathologists? Anyone in the ER? Anyone involved with the autopsy? Even if some of these medical personnel were not permitted to speak with Grob, he still should have asked. There is no evidence he pursued this angle of inquiry.
If Grob was asked by Vernon to investigate Elvis’s death, why didn’t Vernon ask Grob, when he submitted his findings, why Grob hadn’t really done anything beyond trying to pin something on Ginger? Did Vernon also not understand what the word “investigation” means? And if these men truly believed an investigation was warranted, why didn’t they report their suspicions and questions to the Memphis Police Department and ask them to investigate (since they had done almost nothing on the 16th)? I don’t know which is worse, Vernon assuming Grob had the resources and skills to actually investigate the death, or that Grob was so arrogant to think, or pretend, that he did.
This is how things went:
- Elvis, with a known prescription drug addiction, dies suddenly.
- There is virtually no official investigation into the death, and whatever investigations may have been initiated early on at MPD or the Medical Examiner’s office are shut down late that evening due to Dr. Francisco’s premature cause of death ruling.
- Vernon allegedly asks Dick Grob, the Graceland Security Chief and a former Palm Springs police sergeant, to investigate his son’s death.
- Grob talks to James Kirk of The National Enquirer, but does almost nothing else, not even the obvious, perfunctory steps one would take in any death investigation. He does not speak in any official capacity with any of the people who might have shed some light on what was going on, and he ignores the drug issues, as well as the people directly involved with the drug situation at Graceland. Professional malfeasance at best.
- Grob focuses only on Ginger Alden, ignores everything else, reports the Kirk nonsense to Vernon, then supposedly hands over his investigation product to MPD who decline to take further measures.
And then there’s this: Did Dick Grob know that Vernon was involved in a complex financial deal with known white-collar criminals, who were “working” Vernon for the JetStar airplane? Did the FBI ever warn Vernon about the people he was dealing with? Doesn’t seem they did. And apparently they didn’t tell the Graceland Security Chief, either. I wonder why not.
Dick Grob did not investigate Elvis’s death, per Vernon’s alleged request.
Dick Grob wasn’t a true Security Chief, he was apparently a guy who, with a bunch of other guys, helped Elvis Presley walk from a car to an entrance at a hotel/venue. And maybe handled a few small security-related tasks. That’s pretty much it.