Case files on 1964 civil rights worker killings made public

Jun 27, 2021, 5:37 AM | Updated: 10:06 pm

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Never before seen case files, photographs and other records documenting the investigation into the infamous slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi are now open to the public for the first time, 57 years after their deaths.

The 1964 killings of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County sparked national outrage and helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They later became the subject of the movie “Mississippi Burning.”

The previously sealed materials — dating from 1964 to 2007 — were transferred to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History from the Mississippi attorney general’s office in 2019. As of last week, they are now available for viewing by the public at William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson.

The records include case files, Federal Bureau of Investigation memoranda, research notes and federal informant reports and witness testimonies. There are also photographs of the exhumation of the victims’ bodies and subsequent autopsies, along with aerial photographs of the burial site, according to an announcement from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The collection is being stored in three catalog records: Series 2870 houses the attorney general’s research files, Series 2902 houses the FBI memos and Series 2903 houses the photographs.

The three Freedom Summer workers, all in their 20s, had been investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi when they disappeared in June of 1964.

A deputy sheriff in Philadelphia had arrested them on a traffic charge, then released them after alerting a mob. Mississippi’s then-governor claimed their disappearance was a hoax, and segregationist Sen. Jim Eastland told President Lyndon Johnson it was a “publicity stunt” before their bodies were dug up, found weeks later in an earthen dam.

Nineteen men were indicted on federal charges in the 1967 case. Seven were convicted of violating the victims’ civil rights. None served more than six years.

In 2004, the Mississippi Attorney General’s office reopened the investigation. That led to the June 2005 conviction of Edgar Ray Killen, a 1960s Ku Klux Klan leader and Baptist minister, on manslaughter charges.

During his state trial in 2005, witnesses testified that on June 21, 1964, Killen went to Meridian to round up carloads of klansmen to ambush Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, telling some of the klan members to bring plastic or rubber gloves. Witnesses said Killen then went to a Philadelphia funeral home as an alibi while the fatal attack occurred.

Killen died in prison in 2018. Mississippi then-Attorney General Jim Hood officially closed the investigation in 2016.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Firearms are displayed during a news conference at the Homeland Security Investigations Miami Field...
Associated Press

US officials warn of uptick in weapons smuggled to Haiti

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. investigators say they have noticed an uptick in the amount and caliber of weapons being smuggled from Florida to Haiti in recent months. Anthony Salisbury, chief of the Miami Homeland Security Investigations office, said agents are increasing their efforts to stop the trafficking, noting rising gang violence around Haiti’s capital. Salisbury […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Appeals rulings at odds over Confederate-themed jury room

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two Black men who challenged their criminal convictions after jurors deliberated in a Tennessee courthouse room containing Confederate symbols have received opposite rulings from different judges on the same appeals court. One was granted a new trial. The other was denied. The conflicting decisions likely mean the matter will be appealed […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Children’s hospitals harassed over transgender care programs

BOSTON (AP) — Doctors and other staffers at Boston Children’s Hospital are being threatened with violence over its surgical program for transgender youths, administrators said, and other U.S. children’s hospitals are also being harassed online. Boston Children’s is home to the first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program in the United States. It became the […]
13 hours ago
Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, is photographed during an interview at the Bank of America ...
Associated Press

BofA CEO: Struggling Americans feel they are in a recession

NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of Bank of America said the recent debate over whether the U.S. economy is technically in a recession or not is missing the point. What matters is that current economic conditions are negatively impacting those who are most vulnerable. “Recession is a word. Whether we are in a recession […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for September delivery rose $1.58 to $88.11 a barrel Wednesday. Brent crude for October delivery rose $1.31 to $93.65 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for September delivery rose 3 cents to $2.93 a gallon. September heating oil rose 14 cents to $3.62 a gallon. September natural gas fell 9 cents to $9.24 […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

US says SkyWest employee subjected to sexual harassment

DALLAS (AP) — The federal government is suing SkyWest Airlines on behalf of a former employee who says co-workers sexually harassed her, including asking her for sex and making explicit comments about rape in her presence. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that SkyWest discriminated against the woman by […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Case files on 1964 civil rights worker killings made public