The Last Voyage of the Mighty Viking

Prosecutors are about to try one of the late reggae DJ's alleged abductors, but the Mighty Viking's demise remains shrouded in rumors

Only one of the five suspects, Franklin Passley, could be found. He was in Leavenworth federal penitentiary on an arms possession charge. This past June, Passley was returned to Miami to face six felony charges, including kidnapping and first-degree murder. His trial is set for December 7, and Nyberg says he is optimistic that a jury will convict Passley if he does not agree to a plea bargain. But privately, prosecutors admit the case may not be open and shut, especially considering that the state's star witnesses are federal prisoners who did not see the murder, but heard about it second-hand.

None of these developments, however, has made much of an impression around the Mighty Viking's old stomping grounds, where people still brush off the notion that a routine robbery led to his liquidation. "Oh no, the Viking was killed 'cause he opened his mouth one too many times," says a Carol City businesswoman who asked not to be named. "That was a warning, what the posses did."

Even Clark's few close friends seem surprised, almost unsettled, to hear that the mystery of the Mighty Viking may be drawing to a close. "I had no idea they got the guys," says Albert Lee, proprietor of the popular Pepper Pot Restaurant and Grocery. "I didn't expect they'd ever find out who did it. There may be a hundred people who know what happened, but who would ever say?"

Clark used to visit Lee's shop, at 10817 NW 27th Avenue, almost daily, often leaving flyers to publicize the dances that he promoted at clubs such as Big Daddy's 8600 Club and Luther Campbell's Strawberries Restaurant and Lounge. "He was a hustler, a guy who was always on the go," Lee recalls. "When he first went on the radio, we all said, `Now, how is he going to get the advertising for this?' But he did it. He was the one who opened the door. A lot of these younger guys on the air owe it to the Mighty Viking. He used to pack the clubs, too."

As evidence, Lee ducks into his tiny office and retrieves a trophy. The dusty inscription, printed beneath a golden figure of a bowler, reads "Big Daddy's Reggay Award."

"On the night he gave me this, I showed up at the club at 9:00 p.m. There was no one there," Lee remembers. "I said, `Hey Viking, where are all the people?' He looked at me and said -- I'll never forget -- `Just wait, man.' By ten the place was so crowded you couldn't even buy a drink. The Viking was a guy who always liked the limelight."

The kind of guy, Lee imagines, who would have adored the title "living legend."

It comes as little consolation that in death, he became one.

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