Mississippi Burning case: KKK killer dies

Edgar Ray Killen

Edgar Ray Killen

Edgar Ray Killen, the former Ku Klux Klansman responsible for a notorious civil rights era murder, has died in a MS prison.

According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Edgar Ray Killen died Thursday night, January 11.

After a 1967 mistrial, the case was reopened by the state in 2005 and Killen was convicted of three counts of manslaughter.

The killings of James Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24, helped galvanize the civil rights movement that ushered in major reforms in access to voting, education and public accommodations.

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The triple killing was also the basis for the 1988 Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning. In a 2015 interview with the Associated Press, Killen refused to discuss his case but said he was still a segregationist, although he had no ill will for blacks. Hours later, they were released from jail, chased down by carloads of Klansmen, and shot to death.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections said he had known health conditions, and no foul play was suspected in the 92-year-old's death.

The three men were initially considered missing, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined in the search to find them. It was not until 2005 that Killen was charged with murder by a grand jury after new information related the case emerged.

Prosecutors said as a "kleagle" or KKK organiser, he had assembled the murderous mob and instructed them how to dispose of the bodies, but was not at the murder scene itself.

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Edgar Ray Killen was serving a 60-year prison sentence for spearheading the 1964 slayings of the men who were in the southern USA state as part of a drive to register black voters. The jury was unable to agree on a verdict for Killen with the hold-out juror saying she could never convict a preacher.

The trio went missing after being arrested by local police on a traffic charge while in Neshoba County, Mississippi.

Seven were convicted, including Sam Bowers Leader of the Mississippi KKK.

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