'Mississippi Burning' Klansman Dies

James Ford Seale was in prison for killing two young black men. 

Posted:
 
jamesfordseale400
James Ford Seale (Associated Press)

James Ford Seale, the reputed Klansman who was convicted on conspiracy and kidnapping charges in the 1964 deaths of two 19-year-old black men, has died, the Associated Press reports. Seale was serving three life sentences after being found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moor in 2007, decades after the crimes occurred. He was 76. The AP reports:

Prosecutors said Seale, a former crop duster, was with a group of Klansmen when they abducted Moore and Dee from a rural stretch of highway in southwest Mississippi. The Klansmen took the teens into the woods and beat and interrogated them about rumors that blacks in the area were planning an armed uprising, prosecutors said.

The decomposed bodies were found in July 1964 as federal authorities searched for the bodies of three civil rights workers who had also disappeared that summer. That case became known as "Mississippi Burning" and overshadowed the deaths of Dee and Moore.

Many people thought Seale was dead until 2005, when he was discovered living in a town not far from where the teens were abducted. The case was reopened, and Edwards became the government's star witness after he was promised immunity from prosecution.

In March 2010, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the evidence against Seale was sufficient for the jury conviction in the trial that took place 43 years after the crimes. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Seale's appeal.

Charles Moore's brother, Thomas, told the Associated Press that he felt no joy over Seale's death. "Rejoicing? That's not in my nature," Moore said. "All of that is behind me. I lived through the process. I hope he found peace with his God. My sympathies are with his family. I hope he found peace, and I hope his family can pull together like mine has and get on with their lives."

Read more at the Associated Press.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.