Edward M. Evans, who served on a Congressional committee as the chief investigator in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, died on Friday at Stony Brook University Hospital. He was 81 and had retired to his Harbor Avenue, Sag Harbor, house some years ago. His death followed a period of illness, his family said.
Edward Milton Evans was born on March 22, 1931, in West Palm Beach, Fla., to Edward Evans and the former Luella Morgan. He grew up in Brooklyn, where he attended Boys High School, and received an undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the City University of New York.
He enlisted in the Army in 1947 and served as a military policeman in Japan from 1947 to 1950. In 1954 he entered the New York City Police Academy, one of the first African-American officers to matriculate.
Upon graduation from the academy, Mr. Evans was assigned to patrol precincts in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan before being promoted to detective and assigned to the Major Case Squad. He worked on numerous high-profile cases, including the 1975 bombing of Fraunces Tavern by the Puerto Rican nationalist group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional.
He retired from police work in 1977 to accept the job with the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He later worked for the Department of Health and Human Services as a special agent in charge of the Washington field office, investigating waste, fraud, and abuse.
After living in Falls Church, Va., for more than 25 years, Mr. Evans retired to Sag Harbor, where he had vacationed since 1961.
His family recalled him as a passionate man who loved tennis, animals, music, fishing, and history. He had a zest for life and great political acumen and dedication to civil rights, family members said.
Both his wife of 32 years, Merete M. Evans, and his former wife, Joanne V. Evans, survive him, as do children and grandchildren from both marriages, whose names were not immediately available. Donations in his memory have been suggested for the National Kidney Foundation at kidney.org.