The Hurricane Tapes: Revisiting John Artis & bringing the evidence together

By Joel Hammer & Steve CrossmanBBC Sport World Service
A triple murder. A guilty verdict. Forty hours of tape recordings from Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter tell the real story

As the car pulled up to the kerb, John Artis waved from the passenger side.

Jonny Carter, Rubin's cousin, was a picture of concentration as he manoeuvred his car into the space.

It was, at last, our chance to interview Artis and Carter together - albeit not the Carter whose story had intertwined with Artis' so many years ago.

Artis greeted us with his big, bellowing, life-affirming laugh that has become his signature.

Whatever he has experienced in the past 50 years, nothing has diminished his sense of humour.


We'd picked quite a grand setting - Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum in Virginia.

We went to a converted barn that had been turned into a restaurant, which was, when we arrived, completely empty.

Artis didn't take his jacket off while we were there, and also kept on his baseball cap with the name of the unit he served in during the Vietnam War on it.

We settled down in front of the fire, providing much needed warmth as the early spring sun set and the temperatures dropped.

In the 17 months since our first interview with Artis, we have learned a great deal more about the case.

Some of the things we have discovered support Artis and Carter's claims of innocence, and some cast doubt about their roles on that awful night in June 1966.

We asked Carter to come too. When we first spoke to him, he told us he "knew the guy who did it" - someone who "confessed on their deathbed".

We were hoping that, once we told him what we had found, he would finally give us a name.


We sat and talked for hours, going over every aspect of the case and the subsequent trials.

Some moments were met with gasps and disbelieving looks, followed by silence and the shaking of heads.

But then Artis' laugh would break the tension. Occasionally, he and Carter would gently bicker about something from back in the day: the name of a bar, who lived up the hill, who lived in the valley.

So, the million-dollar question: will they reveal who confessed to the killings right at the end of their life?

Sorry to be a tease, but you'll have to listen to the episode for that…

Joel Hammer, John Artis, Jonny Carter and Steve Crossman
BBC World Service's Joel Hammer (left) with John Artis, Jonny Carter and Steve Crossman

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.