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Mississippi Man Arrested in Killing of 2 Blacks in ’64 January 28, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in African Americans, African-American, Andrew Goodman, anti-black, arrest, Black, Blacks, Card, Charles E. Moore, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Hate, Henry H. Dee, James Chaney, James F. Seale, KKK, Klansman, Ku Klux Klan, Michael Schwerner, Mississippi, Mississippi Burning, Natchez, Racism, Racist, Roxie.
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ATLANTA, Jan. 24 — A 71-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in Mississippi on federal kidnapping charges stemming from the 1964 killing of two black teenagers who were tied to trees, whipped and drowned.

The suspect, James F. Seale, a former crop-duster, was indicted in Jackson and taken into custody in the southwestern Mississippi town of Roxie, not far from where the two young men were seized.

The charges against Mr. Seale, some seven years after the Federal Bureau of Investigation reopened the case, are the latest in a string of prosecutions of racially motivated slayings from the 1950s and ’60s. While virtually all the prosecutions so far have proved successful, investigators have long warned that every passing year makes it more difficult to build a case.

Many of those killings became nationally infamous, like the murder of three civil rights workers — James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner — portrayed decades later in the movie “Mississippi Burning.” But like dozens of lynchings in that era, the deaths of the two victims in this case, Henry H. Dee and Charles E. Moore, both 19, were far more obscure.

The discovery of their bodies, in the Old River near Natchez, Miss., attracted attention mainly because it was initially thought that they might be those of two of the three missing rights workers, who, as the nation looked on, were being sought by federal agents, dozens of volunteers and 400 Navy sailors.

Still, the Federal Bureau of Investigation took on the case, and in November of 1964 Mr. Seale, the son of a chapter leader of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and another man, Charles Marcus Edwards, were arrested. They were never prosecuted, in part because fear of Klan retribution prevented witnesses from stepping forward. According to the case file, however, Mr. Edwards told F.B.I. agents that he, Mr. Seale and others had beaten the men but that they were alive when he left them.

Mr. Dee was a sawmill worker; Mr. Moore had recently been expelled from college after participating in a student demonstration. According to a variety of accounts pieced together from F.B.I. files, the Klan mistakenly believed that they were Black Muslims involved in plotting an armed uprising.

That season had been dubbed Freedom Summer by civil rights volunteers hoping to get blacks onto the voter rolls, but in and around Natchez it was a time of terror spread by the Klan. When Klan members saw Mr. Dee and Mr. Moore hitchhiking in early May, they returned with reinforcements and ordered them into a car.

The two were taken deep into the Homochitto National Forest, where they were secured to trees and beaten. They were then driven across the nearby state line to Louisiana, where they were tied to an engine block and thrown into the river with tape covering their mouths.

Mr. Edwards is still living, although The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson reported Wednesday that he was not expected to be arrested and was a potential witness in the case against Mr. Seale. James Newman, the sheriff of Franklin County, which includes Roxie, said Mr. Seale was in poor health and used a cane to walk.

Mr. Edwards is described in the documents from the time as an admitted Klansman. In an interview in 2000 with Jerry Mitchell of The Clarion-Ledger, who has written extensively about the case, Mr. Seale denied being a Klansman or knowing any members, although his family’s involvement in the Klan is well documented.

The F.B.I. reopened the case in 2000 after investigative files that had been thought lost were recovered, and after Mr. Mitchell reported that the killings had most likely occurred on federal land, giving federal prosecutors jurisdiction in what was seen as a case potentially involving murder charges. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined Wednesday to explain the decision to charge Mr. Seale with kidnapping, and a spokeswoman for the United States attorney in Jackson did not return phone calls.

In 2002, Mr. Seale’s son began telling newspaper reporters that his father was dead. But Thomas Moore, the elder brother of Charles Moore, returned to the area with a documentary filmmaker on a trip in 2004, and a local resident directed him to the mobile home where Mr. Seale lived. Mr. Seale ran inside and shut the door.

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: The New York Times

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