The Glover Report: The Unsolved Murder of Robert Lee Clay
By Doni M. Glover, www.bmorenews.com
(BALTIMORE – June 25, 2012) - Most readers of this column know that I was born and raised in Baltimore in 1965. Some of my first memories were around 1968 when National Guard soldiers were on our front – the front of my dad’s funeral home in East Baltimore.
So, as a journalist from this city, I have seen a lot in the black community. Some has changed. Some remains the same. What stands out the most – as I peer back some 47 years, is that every now and then you meet a person who you will never forget. Their indelible impression is something you have never met … and will never meet again.
Such was Robert Lee Clay. Originally from Laurel, Clay was a powerful black businessman. He was a fearless contractor who, without hesitation, took on the establishment – often speaking up for black people as it relates to blacks in Baltimore City getting a fair share of the government-related construction contracts.
Sure he fought for himself. He was supposed to. I like, though, how he also fought for the rest of us. In a day and time when it’s hard to find an image of a strong black man – you know, a real thorough dude – he was a sight for sore eyes.
One of my fondest memories was seeing a picture from him back in the 70s – I believe – picketing in front of City Hall in one of those full-length plaid ‘chumpies’ from back in the day.
I’ll also never forget the day he died. A part of me and so many other people died, too. I know he wasn’t a saint; however, he was a fine example of a person who loved his people enough to fight on their behalf… like it or not! I cried like a baby that day. I couldn’t believe it. A part of our history was gone. A part of black Maryland was snuffed out. A sort of hero he was to some of us – regardless of the opinions of naysayers and what have you.
The thing that has troubled me and countless others since Clay’s untimely death at the age of 58 – this was in 2005 – is how Clay reportedly died: Suicide.
Those of us who knew him find that to be unbelievable. It doesn’t fit his personality. It’s the last thing one would think about Clay – despite any challenges. ‘Anybody but him’ – many of us believe.
And so, I had the opportunity to read a critical report: “City of Baltimore Office of Inspector General: IG 091289-100 INVESTIGATIVE REPORT ROBERT LEE CLAY.” Hilton L. Green, then-Inspector General, was the author. It was completed on April 21, 2009.
In the report, is the Post Mortem Examination from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland, Autopsy Case No.05-3396. Here’s what stood out to me:
#1. Among pertinent information, other than the check mark next to ‘suicide’ as ‘cause of death’, is that the gunshot was to the left side of the head. Ironically, Clay was right handed;
#2. The report contains a photo of Clay’s body found at the scene with his feet resting on the second step; the rest of his body was on the ground laid out flat. Such a suicide done on the steps would be very rare – according to information in the report;
#3. Clay reported to those close to him that he was receiving death threats as late as the Thursday before the Monday he was killed; and
#4. The gun found at the scene was stolen from Frederick, Maryland several years ago. Further, no one questioned knew of the gun.
Further, Clay was found with hundreds of dollars in his pocket. And, being the meticulous man he was, would he actually kill himself right where he knew his daughter would likely be the first to find him?
Additionally, there was nothing in the report that suggested financial or health concerns.
If there is any commentary I would add, it would be that the Baltimore City Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation clearly did not do their best work on this investigation. Actually, it was of the poorest quality because several people – including family - were never interviewed by police or the FBI. A man of Robert Lee Clay’s stature – a man who did so much for so many people in this state – was unfortunately treated less than. Sadly, it is too common that prominent blacks get less-than investigations in a majority black city where several blacks in power have the ability to actually help improve the conditions for black people - as Clay tried to do.
May Robert Lee Clay rest knowing at least that those who loved him have – after a lengthy wait – no reason whatsoever to believe he killed himself. Hell, they still haven’t even found the bullet.
What do you think?
10 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Doni from one soldier to another Robert Clay was a General in the Battle for economical empowerment! He is truly missed but not forgotten.
I believe that the Baltimore City Police Department & FBI know who killed him or who had him killed but they are covering it up because its obviously someone with power in the city. That is my take on the matter, too many holes in this investigation,
first and foremost thank you Bro. Glover for writing this piece. It is more than obvious that the Baltimore Police Department covered this murder up. Why and who had them to cover it up is unknown by myself but surely it was a cover up and Commissioner Leonard Hamm who was commissioner at the time I would believe have valueable information that he could add to this case and I pray that he will and not take what he know to the grave. I too thank all those who are still fighting for a man who fought for us.
This is one time one major tragedy that can and must bring us together to fight for justice. I am reaching out to every one and anyone that is sincerely willing to help. Robert touched the lives of so many of us and he deserved J U S T I C E. We know he did not kill himself. Please help us, please join us.
I have questioned the death of Robert Clay since it happened. Having interacted, attended meetings and functions given by Mr. Clay and the associations that he represented, I believed that he had everything to live for and more. He was robbed of his life too soon ... for reasons we will never know. I believe that the mafia-style government in the city during the time of his murder knows what happened. If we keep questioning and conduct our own investigations, we will find answers. Are we willing to do that? Question the establishment or the undercurrent of the establishment? Including the PO-PO? The illegal political machines that we can't see? Are we willing to put ourselves in the line of fire to find out/receive JUSTICE or Just US?
Bob was trully a wonderful person. He was kind, committed to the minority business community and courageous. He did not fear any man...made of the same substance as Dr. King and Malcom. It is obvious that the system saw the need to remove him, because he was an obstacle in their way. However, he is in a better place. REST IN PEACE, Robert and Rev. Chet Howard, THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES.
Thank u all!My great uncle will be 4ever missed! I realize I don
t have the anwsers but I know Jesus knows all!!! One thing I know my great uncle didnt kill himself...