Mississippi Burning: Edgar Ray Killen Leaves Court on Gurney on June 17, 2005
Famous Prisoners Series

Former Ku Klux Klan Leader Dies in Prison for 1964 ‘Mississippi Burning’ Murders

A white supremacist convicted of masterminding the killings of three civil rights workers depicted in the movie, Mississippi Burning, has died in prison.

Edgar Ray Killen, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, died at the Mississippi State Penitentiary on Thursday at age 92. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 2005 at age 80 for the 1964 killings of three men, working as civil rights activists.

Mississippi Burning: The Killings and Killen’s Conviction

Mississippi Burning Victims - James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman
Mississippi Burning Victims – James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. Image Source: Daily KOS

The Three Victims were out investigating the torching of a black church in Philadelphia, MS when they were ambushed and slaughtered by the KKK.

The murders were depicted in a 1988 movie entitled Mississippi Burning.

Mississippi Burning Victims

The three victims of Killen’s Klansmen were Freedom Summer workers named:

  • James Chaney
    Mississippi Burning Killings Orchestrator Edgar Ray Killen Dies Serving Life in Prison
    Mississippi Burning Killings Orchestrator Edgar Ray Killen Dies Serving Life in Prison
  • Michael Schwerner
  • Andrew Goodman

Although Killen claimed innocence over the incident, he was convicted 41 years after it occurred. Until his 2005 conviction, Killen was a lumber mill operator and a part-time preacher at a small Baptist church in Neshoba County.

Just Like Charles Manson: Edgar Ray Killen Served Time for Murder, But Actually Killed No One

Following his incarceration at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, Killen continued to protest his innocence. He would not be specific about events that led or occurred during the 1964 murders.

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The famous prisoner insisted he would never say anything about the incident and how it worked to put him behind bars. He, however, disclosed he was a segregationist who believed in white supremacy, but never hated blacks.

Court files and witnesses’ reports from a 1967 trial revealed Edgar Ray Killen was behind the whole affair. He planned the ambush and how the three civil rights workers were to be murdered.

But Killen never directly took part in the killings. Rather, he was reported to have gone to a funeral home in Philadelphia on the day of the murders as his alibi.

The bodies of the three slain civil rights workers were recovered 44 days after the killings. They had been buried in a dam.

Mississippi Burning: Edgar Ray Killen Leaves Court on Gurney on June 17, 2005
Mississippi Burning: Edgar Ray Killen Leaves Court on Gurney on June 17, 2005. Image Source: Getty Images

Killen Sued the FBI for Allegedly Using a Mafioso Against Him

In 2010, Edgar Killen sued the FBI for several millions in damages. He claimed the government had hired a Mafioso to compel witnesses to testify against him.

The racists prisoner insisted the government had used the gangster The Grim Reaper against him during the trials. The case was subsequently dropped.

During the few times he got talkative with media reporters in prison, Killen spoke glowingly of his past life. He disclosed he was a close friend of late Sen. James O. Eastland.

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The famous prisoner says he preached to a small congregation at Smyrna Baptist Church in Union in South Philadelphia where the churchgoers nicknamed him Preacher.

At times he would speak of the rottenness at the Mississippi prison. And at other times he would talk about political corruption within society.

Mississippi Burning
Price Disclaimer
The Mississippi corrections department has ruled out foul play in Edgar Ray Killen’s death in prison. If you don’t know the full story, you have got to watch Mississippi Burning.

Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.

Charles Omedo
Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.
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