The Hurricane Tapes: Meeting 'Chipmunk' & Rubin Carter's glass eye

In 1967, middleweight boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter and John Artis were convicted of triple murder in the United States. They spent almost 20 years in prison, maintaining their innocence, before being released. BBC World Service has investigated the murders - at the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey - in their podcast series The Hurricane Tapes. This is their story.

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A triple murder. A guilty verdict. Forty hours of tape recordings from Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter tell the real story

Of all the people we met, Fred Hogan was - and is - one of the biggest characters.

We spent the hour-and-a-half drive from Manhattan to New Jersey considering why John Artis and Rubin Carter had nicknamed this man 'Chipmunk'.

It took us less than a minute to work it out.

Hogan is one of the most energetic people we've ever met. He's in and out of a room, walking out stage left and appearing again stage right after a matter of seconds.

He bombards us with questions about everything from sandwich fillings - what did we prefer? - to our plans for Halloween. The giant pumpkin flag hanging outside his front door is something to behold.

The only thing louder than Hogan is a cricket that has come into the house. Hogan's best friend, Jeff, spends half an hour trying to hunt it down.

Then, suddenly, we're taking in Hogan's shrine to Carter.

It includes priceless memorabilia - an urn containing some of Carter's ashes and a glove that belonged to undefeated heavyweight world champion Rocky Marciano - given to Hogan by Carter.

But the most prized possession doesn't sit on the wall. It hangs around Hogan's neck.

It's an eye. Carter's glass eye.

"Some people think it's morbid," Hogan says. No kidding.


Hogan is the man who picked up Carter and Artis when they had lost all hope. He's the investigator who tracked down the two eyewitnesses who testified against him and convinced them to admit they had lied.

He may portray himself as a figure of fun, but this is a man who faced down Arthur Dexter Bradley while he brandished a baseball bat and got him to sign a paper saying he had never seen Carter or Artis on the night of the murders.

How did he do it? In court, Hogan was accused of bribing the two men for the recantations. He has always denied that suggestion - and was never charged with wrongdoing.

Hogan personified hope. Carter was certain he would have died in prison if it wasn't for him.

He was the first person to come to their aid when no-one else was interested, and he did so when their case was going nowhere.

It's very difficult not to like Hogan. Not a week goes by without a call or an email from him, but introducing him to smartphone video calling may turn out to be the best - and worst - decision of this entire series…


Each week, BBC Sport will publish a new article to coincide with the latest episode of The Hurricane Tapes. A longer feature piece on the BBC World Service's investigation will then be published at the end of the podcast series. The tapes had been missing for nearly 10 years since author Ken Klonsky recorded a series of conversations with Carter for his book Eye Of The Hurricane: My Path From Darkness To Freedom. The audio contained in the tapes has not previously been heard by anyone other than Ken and Rubin Carter.