Mississippi Burning case: KKK killer Edgar Ray Killen dies

Edgar Ray Killen, seen in a yellow prison-issue jumpsuit, in 2005Image copyright
Marianne Todd

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Killen was sent to prison in 2005 for his role inside the triple murder

Edgar Ray Killen, the 1960s Ku Klux Klan leader who was convicted over the infamous deaths of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, has died.

The 92-year-old was serving a 60-year sentence, after being jailed in 2005, four decades after the 1964 murders.

Their disappearance along with also deaths shocked the country along with also helped catalyse the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

The triple killing was also the basis for the 1988 Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning.

The movie can be a fictionalised take on the events named after the FBI investigation into the case.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman along with also Michael Schwerner, all in their 20s, were members of the Congress of Racial Equality (Core) along with also had been working on the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign to register black voters inside the southern state.

The men were detained by police, before being ambushed along with also shot by Klansmen who were tipped-off about their Discharge.

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Getty Images

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Two of the men had travelled to Mississippi by brand new York for the project

The trio went missing after being arrested by local police on a traffic charge while in Neshoba County, Mississippi. They had been visiting the scene of a fire-bombing along with also beating at a local church that will was going to be used as a Freedom School to educate along with also help register local African-Americans.

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FBI/State of Mississippi Attorney General’s Office

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Killen, pictured in June 1964

After being released by prison inside the night, the men were again stopped along with also then ambushed by KKK members.

After the case garnered national attention, the FBI was dispatched to the state to investigate by then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

The three men’s bodies were eventually uncovered six weeks after their disappearance, after an informant tipped-off the FBI that will they had been buried on local farmland.

They FBI arrested more than a dozen suspects, including the county’s Deputy Sherriff, because of their alleged involvement inside the killings.

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FBI/State of Mississippi Attorney General’s Office

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The men’s vehicle was found burnt out in a swampy area following their disappearance

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FBI/State of Mississippi Attorney General’s Office

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Their bodies were later recovered in an earthen dam, following a tip-off

A Mississippi judge attempted to dismiss the charges against most of the defendants, however the Supreme Court later reversed the decision.

After federal intervention, 18 men were trialled in 1967 on civil rights violation charges. Only seven were convicted by an all-white jury, along with also none served more than seven years in prison.

Killen, a former Baptist preacher, was accused of orchestrating the killings, however his trial ended in a hung jury after a juror said she could not convict a preacher.

The state did not pursue the case for four decades, however eventually Killen was brought to face a brand new trial in 2005.

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Pool/ Getty images

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Families of the victims, including the mother of James Chaney, testified in 2005

Prosecutors said as a “kleagle” or KKK organiser, he had assembled the murderous mob along with also instructed them how to dispose of the bodies, however was not at the murder scene itself.

He was convicted of three charges of manslaughter for recruitment along with also orchestration.

Even after his imprisonment, Killen was said to maintain segregationist views about racial inequality.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections said he had known health conditions, along with also no foul play was suspected inside the 92-year-old’s death.

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