Who Is Edgar Ray Killen? Klansman, 'Mississippi Burning' Perpetrator Dies In Prison

Source MDOC

Source MDOC

A KKK member responsible for the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers in MS has died while serving a 60-year-sentence for manslaughter, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Killen was serving a total of 60 years for manslaughter for the June 21, 1964, deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County.

The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning".

Edgar Ray Killen was 92 years old.

The men were detained by police, before being ambushed and shot by Klansmen who were tipped-off about their release.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections says Killen's cause of death is pending an autopsy, but that he was suffering from congestive heart failure and hypertension.

Their bodies were discovered 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam.

In June 2016, the state of MS finally officially closed the case.

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"Mississippi authorities reopened the case after finding out Sam Bowers said the main instigator had gotten away with murder and that was Edgar Ray Killen As we reported about that they reopened the case", according to Michell.

The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his convictions in 2007.

After federal intervention, 18 men were trialled in 1967 on civil rights violation charges. With key witnesses dead and memories faded, the jurors, including three black members, said they convicted Killen of the lesser charge of manslaughter because the state's case was not strong enough to prove murder.

"It has been a thorough and complete investigation", Hood said.

"It's the last Klansman in all these Civil Rights cold cases in MS to be alive".

Forty years after the "Mississippi Burning" killings and at age 80, Killen became the first and only person to be tried for murder in the case.

They include the Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing in 1963 that killed four black girls and the assassination of Medgar Evers, a NAACP leader, in Jackson Mississippi, in 1963 by a member of the White Citizens' Council, who was convicted more than 30 years later based on new evidence.

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