Klansman convicted of killing civil rights workers dies in prison
The Mississippi Ku Klux Klan leader jailed for orchestrating the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers has died in prison.
Edgar Ray Killen, who would have turned 93 on Wednesday, was sentenced in 2005 to 60 years behind bars for the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
His first trial in 1967 ended in mistrial, but Killen was retried nearly 40 years later after state authorities reopened the murder investigations, according to the Clarion Ledger.
The part-time preacher and lumber mill operator was 80 when he was convicted on the three counts of manslaughter — 41 years to the day after the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.
Mississippi Correction officials told Goodman’s brother, David, Killen died 9 p.m. Thursday night.
Michael Schwerner, 24, of New York, James Chaney, 21, from Mississippi, and Andrew Goodman, 20, were abducted, killed and buried in an earthen dam in rural Neshoba County.
Klansmen abducted and killed the three men while they were organizing a voter registration drive for black people in Jessup County. They’d been in the area to speak to the community of Longdale about a church that had recently been burned down.
Their bodies were discovered by authorities 44 days later, buried in a red clay dam in rural Neshoba County.
The 1988 film “Mississippi Burning” is loosely based on the violent slayings and the following investigation that unfolded amid the peak of the Civil Rights movement.
With News Wire Services