Billy Wayne Posey, 73, of Meridian, Miss., died Thursday, 45 years after Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman disappeared, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. Posey narrowly escaped indictment in 2005 with a relative casting the deciding vote on the grand jury, the newspaper said.
Alvin Sykes of Kansas City, who pushed for passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, called Posey's death a "major setback in our continuing pursuit of truth and justice for Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner."
"However, at least he went to his grave knowing that the next knock on the door would be for him," Sykes said Friday.
Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, said the death does not change the investigation into the killings.
Three years after the bodies of the three civil rights workers were found buried in an earthen dam, seven men were convicted of federal conspiracy charges. Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Killeen was convicted on state murder charges in 2005 and sentenced to 60 years.