"Mississippi Burning" Klansman dies in prison - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

"Mississippi Burning" Klansman dies in prison

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
PARCHMAN, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Edgar Ray Killen, a member of the Ku Klux Klan who was convicted of helping plan the murders of three civil rights activists in 1964, has died in prison. 

According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Killen was 92-years-old. 

PREVIOUS STORY: Victims' Families React to Killen Verdict

Killen was accused of manslaughter in the murder of Civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

All three young men were in Mississippi participating in the Freedom Summer of 1964. Their bodies were found buried in a dam in rural Neshoba County. 

The first trial in 1966 ended in a hung jury by an all-white jury. 

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

Killen walked.

Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell uncovered new evidence from Bowers that lead to Killen as the ringleader. 

"Mississippi authorities reopened the case after finding out Sam Bowers said the main instigator had gotten away with murder and that was Edgar Ray Killen," said Mitchell. "As we reported about that, they reopened the case." 

Killen, a part-time preacher, and lumber mill operator was 80-years-old when a Neshoba County jury found him guilty of three counts of manslaughter in 2005.

Killen was sentenced to 60 years in prison. 

The murders shocked the nation and helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"It's the last Klansman in all these Civil Rights cold cases in Mississippi to be alive. Now he's dead," added Mitchell. "It's the end of his life, end of kind of era in pursuit of those cases."

Killen's cause of death was not released, but officials say no foul play is suspected.

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