'Mississippi Burning' killer and KKK leader dies in prison

Mississippi Burning’ killer dies in prison

Mississippi Burning’ killer dies in prison

A man convicted in the deaths of three civil rights workers in MS died in prison.

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.

Killen would have turned 93 on January 17.

This June 20, 2005, file photo shows Edgar Ray Killen in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

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. No foul play was suspected.

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.

Their bodies were found 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam, after an extensive FBI investigation.

An all-white jury convicted seven of the men, including Bowers and a sheriff's deputy, and they were given sentences ranging from three to 10 years. Goodman and Schwerner were both Jewish.

At the time, no federal murder statutes existed, and the state of MS never brought charges.

"Those boys were Communists who went to a Communist training school", Killen said of the victims in a 1998 interview with the New York Times.

The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his convictions in 2007.

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.

Mitchell's reporting also eventually led to the convictions for Bowers in the murder of another 1960's activist, as well as Byron De La Beckwith in the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers, and Bobby Cherry, who killed four girls by bombing a Birmingham, Alabama, church in 1963 - all decades after the crimes were committed. Prosecutors said he encouraged members of his congregation to join the Klan.

Killen, a part-time Baptist preacher and KKK kleagle (organizer), faced federal charges in 1967, but the trial ended in a hung jury after a hold-out juror said she couldn't convict a preacher.

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