'Mississippi Burning' killer and former Ku Klux Klan leader dies in prison

Klansman convicted in ‘Mississippi Burning’ case dies in prison

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.

The former Klansman was serving a 60-year sentence for manslaughter over the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, who had been trying to sign up black voters when they were killed.

The slayings were among the most notorious of the civil rights era and were the subject of the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning".

Killen was accused of orchestrating the shocking murders of the three political workers - two white men and one black man. Their bodies were found buried in a dam in rural Neshoba County. Edgar Ray Killen, who would have turned 93 on January 17, was pronounced dead at the hospital at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the statement said.

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

"For 41 years it's been Edgar Ray Killen and his friends who have written the history of Neshoba County", he said during closing arguments.

The jury convicted Killen of manslaughter, which some of the victims' families found insufficient.

An FBI flyer for missing civil rights students Andrew Goodman James Chaney and Michael Schwerner
'Mississippi Burning' killer and former Ku Klux Klan leader dies in prison

The cause of the "Mississippi Burning" murderer's death would be known after an autopsy but was not thought to be suspicious. "No foul play is suspected", according to a statement.

Almost 40 years later, he was retried after the state reopened the murder investigations.

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

After their disappearance made national news, federal agents were sent to the area to search for them.

In June 2016, federal and MS authorities closed the books on the case, saying no viable prosecutions remain in the more than half-century-old investigation.

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

The case galvanised public opinion against segregation and helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

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