Edgar Ray Killen, a former Ku Klux Klan leader who was in prison for his conviction in the 1964 ‘Mississippi Burning’ slayings of three civil rights workers, has died. He was 92 and at the time of his death was reportedly in prison.
Mississippi’s corrections department said that the man who was behind the slaying of three human rights workers, including, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman died in jail. He was a preacher and worked as sawmill operator.
Edgar Ray Killen was convicted at the age of 80 when a Neshoba County jury convicted him in 2005 of three counts of manslaughter. The court sentenced him to 60 years in prison. His conviction came rather very late. It happened only after 41 years when the three people were ambushed and killed. Official accounts suggest that the bodies of the three victims were discovered buried in a red-clay dam in rural Neshoba County.
It was the ruthless killing of the three people that helped pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning.”
Edgar Ray Killen was born on 17th January 1925. The man was proved guilty in state court of three counts of manslaughter on June 21, 2005, more than forty years after the gruesome crime. Investigation in the case proved that Killen, along with Cecil Price, then deputy sheriff of Neshoba County, was found to have assembled a group of armed men who conspired against, pursued, and killed the three civil rights workers. Samuel Bowers, who served as the Grand Wizard of the local White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and had ordered the murders to take place, acknowledged that Killen was “the main instigator.” At the time of the murder there was no effort to pursue the case and find out the guilty.