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Mississippi Murders: Forty-three years passed before justice served in death of teenagers

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

On May 2, 1964, Charles Eddie Moore, a college student, and Henry Hezekiah Dee, a millworker, both 19 and from Franklin County, Mississippi, were picked up by KKK members while they were hitchhiking in Meadville., Mississippi.

They were abducted, interrogated and tortured in a nearby forest, locked in a trunk of a car, driven across state lines, chained to a Jeep motor block and train rails, and dropped alive into the Mississippi River to die.

Moore and Dee's mangled torsos were discovered on July 12 and 13, 1964 during the frantic FBI search for James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, the three civil rights workers who disappeared on June 21.

When it was discovered that the bodies were those of two black men and not those of the civil rights workers, two of whom were white, media interest evaporated and the press moved on.

James Ford Seale - 1964

On the night of the slayings Several Klansmen drove to the Sheriff’s Department and asked Sheriff Wayne Hutto, a fellow Klan member, and a deputy sheriff to search a church with them, without a warrant in an effort to located guns that "black militants" had reportedly stored there.

After the search came up empty-handed, Seale and other Klansmen drove Dee and Moore, who had been bound and placed in a car trunk with their mouths taped, across state lines to Louisiana, the suit said. They tied Dee to an engine block, took him by boat into the Mississippi River, and dumped him overboard to drown. They strapped Moore to a railroad tie and iron weights and dumped him overboard as well.

In November of that year, Seale and one of the other Klansmen kidnappers, Charles Edwards, were arrested and charged under state law with murder in the deaths of Moore and Dee. But the Franklin County district attorney persuaded the court to drop the charges several weeks later.

But at no time did the sheriff disclose his contact with the Klansmen that night, even when he was interviewed by the FBI at the time..

It remained a secret until Seale was tried in US District Court in Jackson in 2007, after Thomas Moore and a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary maker uncovered evidence about the killings and contacted federal prosecutors.

At the trial, Edwards testified under immunity about what happened that day, including the Klan’s search of the church with the sheriff and deputy.

Seale was convicted and sentenced to the maximum of three life sentences. Seale died in August of 2011 in prison and the sheriff and deputy are both deceased.

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