Man convicted in slayings of 3 civil rights workers dies in prison

Edgar Ray Killen

One of perpetrators of a particularly infamous hate crime during the civil rights movement died in prison Thursday.

A KKK member responsible for the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers in MS has died while serving a 60-year-sentence for manslaughter, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Killen, 92, was serving three consecutive 20-year terms at the facility, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Michael Schwerner, 24, of New York, James Chaney, 21, from MS, and Andrew Goodman, 20, were abducted, killed and buried in an earthen dam in rural Neshoba County. He was retried 38 years later after the state reopened the murder investigations, and was convicted on June 21, 2005. However, no foul play is suspected, MDOC said. They were held for several hours for speeding charges before eventually being released that night, never to be seen again until their bodies were discovered that August.

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He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning".

His first trial in 1967 ended in mistrial, but Killen was retried almost 40 years later after state authorities reopened the murder investigations, according to the Clarion Ledger.

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