Former Ku Klux Klan Recruiter Edgar Ray Killen Dies In Prison

Edgar Ray Killen, the man behind the infamous 'Mississippi Burning' murders, has died in prison, aged 92.

He planned and directed the gruesome murders of three civil rights activists in the southern American state in 1964, a case that drew worldwide attention and was even turned into a major Hollywood film.

Shockingly, it wasn't until 41 years after the murders, in 2005, when he was finally convicted in court of three counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to 60 years behind bars.

Killen's victims from left to right: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner. Credit: FBI
Killen's victims from left to right: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner. Credit: FBI

According to the Guardian, an autopsy will be conducted on Killen's body, however no foul play is suspected in his death.

The 92-year-old was described as a Kleagle, otherwise known as an officer for the Ku Klux Klan who was responsible for recruiting new members.

Killen, along with then deputy sheriff of Neshoba County Cecil Price, gathered together a group of people to pursue and kill civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner. Despite him only being a recruiter in the KKK, the Grand Wizard of the local White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Samuel Bowers said Edgar was the 'main instigator' in the crimes.

Credit: FBI/State Of Mississippi Attorney General's Office
Credit: FBI/State Of Mississippi Attorney General's Office

Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were arrested on the night of June 21, 1964 while they were travelling through Mississippi to talk to people who belonged to a church which had been burned to the ground. Once they were released, they were immediately followed by law enforcement, before being pulled over, kidnapped, taken to another location and shot at close range.

Eighteen men, including Killen, were arrested as a part of an intense investigation, with a trial starting in 1966.

The jury was a panel of all-white individuals, and only convicted seven of those arrested, with Killen being one of those acquitted.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

While that might sound pretty fucking awful, keep in mind that a deputy sheriff was found guilty - the first time a white jury convicted white official in a civil rights murder.

In Killen's case, the trial ended in a hung jury, with 11 people for a guilty conviction and only one person against.

It wasn't until 39 years later until he was re-tried, this time on three counts of murder. He was eventually found guilty on manslaughter.

While in prison, he shared a cell with James Hart Stern, a black preacher from California.

During their year-long friendship, Killen reportedly confessed to other crimes and even signed over power of attorney and his land in Mississippi to Stern.

Sources: Guardian, USA Today

Featured Image Credit: PA

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.

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