Edgar Ray Killen, Klansman in 'Mississippi Burning' slayings, dies in prison at 92

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  Jan. 12, 2018 at 2:26 PM
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Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Edgar Ray Killen, a man convicted in the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers that inspired the film Mississippi Burning, has died in prison, the brother of a victim said.

Killen, 92, died on Thursday in the state penitentiary in Drew, Miss. He was a Klansman who led a group of 15 men in the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Shwerner.

After a 1967 mistrial, the case was reopened by the state in 2005 and Killen was convicted of three counts of manslaughter. His conviction and sentence of three consecutive 20-year sentences was upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2007.

An autopsy will disclose the cause and manner of Killen's death, the Mississippi Department of Corrections said in a statement, but no foul play is suspected

David Goodman, Andrew's brother, said Friday he was informed of Killen's death on Thursday by state corrections officers.

"The 15 men who murdered Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney weren't indicted, much less tried. It's an American tragedy that law enforcement, the FBI and others knew the names of those who were involved in the killings, but none were ever tried for murder. The only person tried was Edgar Ray Killen, who wasn't even there," David Goodman said.

The families of the three murdered men were presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom on their behalf in 2014.

A 1988 motion picture about the men's deaths, Mississippi Burning, starred Gene Hackman and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one for cinematography.

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