Exciting developments in the notorious case of the 1964 murders of the three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. Jerry Mitchell reports in the Clarion Ledger:
Authorities should reopen the Klan's 1964 killings of three civil rights workers because of newly discovered evidence, family members say.
"Without a doubt," said Ben Chaney of New York City, a Meridian native whose brother was among those slain. "There is enough to warrant the state attorney general to reopen the case and begin to pursue other people who committed this crime."
Six people are still alive who have been accused of playing a part in the June 21, 1964, killings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, which led to a massive FBI investigation code-named Mississippi Burning. The probe later was depicted in the 1988 fictional film of the same name.
The Clarion-Ledger has found three potential new witnesses in the case, including a former FBI agent who said reputed Klansman Billy Wayne Posey admitted he was a guard for the Klan's killing party.
Upon hearing about the possible testimony, Ben Chaney said he believed this was enough evidence to put the case in front of a grand jury again, particularly since the 2005 Neshoba County grand jury came within one vote of indicting Posey.
He encouraged Attorney General Jim Hood to ask for the FBI's help in investigating the case. "By doing so, I think he can get indictments against the people who are still alive," he said.
Authorities say they're interested in what the newspaper has found.
"Any new evidence we will certainly follow it up," said Hood, whose office investigated the case, leading to the 2005 conviction of Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen, now serving 60 years in prison for manslaughter.
The Clarion Ledger has also published several related article today:
- Six living suspects from 1964 civil rights murders
- Grand jury within one vote of indictment
- Buried secrets: Confession, but no charges
The Ledger has also released some of realated documents:
- James Jordan's confession
- Wayne Posey's statement to authorities
- Cecil Price's confession
- Horace Doyle Banette's confession
I am on deadline for an article on another Civil Rights Era murder case in Mississippi and do not have time to comment on this development just yet. See my past coverage of the Neshoba Murders case (aka Mississippi Burning) for more background.