By Layne Saliba, FCN regional staff
Elvis Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977. At least, that’s what most people think and what news reports indicated.
Gail Brewer-Giorgio, a writer and Gainesville resident, isn’t one who believes so. While she’s not certain if he’s alive today, she is sure Presley didn’t die that day 41 years ago.
Brewer-Giorgio, 79, said she was never a fan of Presley’s, like the rest of world. To this day, she still isn’t. There aren’t photos of Presley plastered on her walls. There aren’t Presley tunes filling her home either.
But that never stopped her from digging into and finding what she calls “explosive evidence,” including a medical examiner’s report and FBI files she said Presley filled out after his death, as to why Elvis didn’t die on Aug. 16.
“I found the (medical examiner’s) report, sometimes called the death certificate, early on,” Brewer-Giorgio said. “But I never had it examined. ... I didn’t know I had a piece of gold in my hand.”
There are numerous conspiracy theories floating around about Presley’s death. The middle name on his tombstone is spelled incorrectly, leading many fans to believe it’s not him that actually died. There was the actual body in the casket, too. Many fans said the person in the casket looked nothing like Presley; his nose was wrong and his hands were too small and too smooth.
There were the slip-ups on TV with Presley’s wife, Priscilla. In a 2005 interview, she told Oprah Winfrey she was talking to Presley “the other day.”
But Brewer-Giorgio’s story started with a book, “Orion,” she wrote in 1978. The fictional book follows the story of a famous musician who faked his own death to escape the fame he had achieved. When Mae Axton, a musician who helped write Presley’s popular song “Heartbreak Hotel,” got ahold of the book, she was reminded of Presley.
Brewer-Giorgio and Axton eventually met up and became close friends after recalling Axton being her teacher during the eighth grade. Brewer-Giorgio said, “It’s a small world.”
After talking about the book and Presley, Axton encouraged Brewer-Giorgio to look into Presley’s death because she had her doubts about what happened.
“She said to me, ‘I don’t think he died,’” Brewer-Giorgio said. “She called (Presley’s father) Vernon when she heard the news and she said, ‘What’s going on?’ Vernon said, ‘Don’t even come to the funeral, it’s not Elvis in the coffin.’”
He said Presley was upstairs at his home.
As Brewer-Giorgio followed Axton’s advice and began to research, she said she discovered an undercover FBI operation Presley was involved in called “Operation Fountain Pen.” She said “The Fraternity,” a group linked to the Mafia, put out a “contract on Elvis’ life” after he testified against them, ultimately contributing to him faking his own death.
“Col. Tom Parker (Presley’s manager) tried to stop me because he knew Elvis was alive and I guess I was blowing the whistle so to speak,” Brewer-Giorgio said. “I hadn’t gotten a call from Elvis at that time, though.”
She said she eventually did get that call on Oct. 10, 1988, the same year she published another book, “Is Elvis Alive?”
During the phone conversation, which she recorded and transcribed, a person who identified themself as Presley talked to Brewer-Giorgio as she asked questions to find out if it was really him.
She believes it was.
As if that wasn’t enough evidence for Brewer-Giorgio, a medical examiner’s report is yet another piece she found in 1990, the same year she released another book, “The Elvis Files.”
Brewer-Giorgio, with the help of master graphoanalyst or a handwriting expert, Paul Weast, believes Presley filled the report out himself. Weast used a letter Presley sent to former President Richard Nixon to compare the two documents. In his opinion the two documents were “probably produced by the same person.”
There were also FBI documents relating to Operation Fountain Pen, filled out after Aug. 16, 1977, Brewer-Giorgio said matched Presley’s handwriting.
“Now this is astounding in itself,” Brewer-Giorgio said. “It’s beyond proof that he did not die on Aug. 16, 1977.”
Brewer-Giorgio is used to being around famous people, so digging around in Presley’s life was nothing new. As she moved around the country before settling in Gainesville, she got to know quite a few people in the music industry along with former Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox and former Braves owner and media mogul Ted Turner.
Brewer-Giorgio is famous in her own way. She’s somewhat known as an expert on Presley and whether or not he died in 1977. She’s been on “Larry King Live,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and “Nightline.”
“I didn’t get as much flack as you would think,” Brewer-Giorgio said. “I got some and it was usually from someone who didn’t do their homework.”
When asked what she thought as she was discovering all of this information, Brewer-Giorgio had a short answer.
“He’s alive,” she said.