Organizer of 1964 civil-rights activist murders

Edgar Ray Killen, 92, died on Jan. 11 in the Mississippi State Penitentiary. Killen was a was a Ku Klux Klan member who organized the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to investigate the burning of Mt. Zion Methodist Church and to register voters. They were kidnapped, beaten and shot; their bodies were not found for nearly two months. A 1967 trial convicted seven men, but Killen—who had planned and directed the murders—was acquitted. After new evidence surfaced, Killen was retried in 2005 and convicted of manslaughter and recruiting the killers.  The film Mississippi Burning and the documentary Neshoba were based on the case. In 2016, an unrepentant Killen told writer Tim Kalich that Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, “were recruiting and coaching young black bucks to rape a white woman once a week,” and that “had I known it ahead of time, I might have been the trigger man.”—Eve Golden

Click here to see curated images of Edgar Ray Killin.