Friday, July 09, 2010

Wife Says He's Dead, But Suspect In Klan Slayings Alive

Wife Says He's Dead, But Suspect In Klan Slayings Alive

Jerry Mitchell
June 28, 2010

The wife of Jimmie Snowden, one of the last living suspects in the Klan's 1964 killing of three civil rights workers, told The Clarion-Ledger last week that her husband is dead.

He's not.

Asked when he died, Snowden's wife replied, "I don't want to discuss it with you."

Lindon Ratliff, an assistant professor from Mississippi State University-Meridian who is researching the case, played recordings of recent conversations with her in which she acknowledged her husband is alive. In the first call, she said she doesn't know where he is. In the second, she agreed to pass on a letter to him.

The FBI is now investigating the Ku Klux Klan's June 21, 1964, killing of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Families claiming murder suspects are dead or gone when they are not is nothing new. In 2002, the son of James Ford Seale told The Los Angeles Times that his father, a suspect in the 1964 slayings of two black teenagers, had died. Three years later, Thomas Moore and documentary filmmaker David Ridgen discovered Seale was still alive, helping lead to his successful prosecution in 2007 for the Ku Klux Klan's 1964 killing of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, Thomas Moore's brother.

"That was the turning point," Thomas Moore recalled. "Without that, there wouldn't have been a conviction. It just wouldn't have happened."

On the first evening of summer in 1964, Snowden, then 30, gathered with other Klansmen in Meridian where they met with Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen, who told them some civil rights workers had been jailed up the road in Philadelphia and needed their "a---s tore up," according to FBI documents.

Klansman James Jordan told agents Killen informed them they needed to hurry because the workers were being held on a minor charge.

Jordan told the FBI the rest of what happened that night:

Snowden joined him and other men in a car, and they drove to Philadelphia, stopping twice for beer.

Upon arriving, Killen showed the men where the three civil rights workers were jailed and where to watch for their release.

The Klansmen dropped Killen off at a local funeral home to give him an alibi. When they saw the trio heading south in a station wagon on Mississippi 19 toward Meridian, they gave chase.

The trio finally pulled over on a dirt road. Deputy Cecil Price stopped and ordered them into his squad car. Snowden joined him in the front seat, armed with a sawed-off shotgun.

They drove to a remote location, where Klansmen shot to death James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Jordan said he saw Snowden stuff his gun under the seat in Horace Doyle Barnette's car and then helped Snowden load Chaney's body into the back of the wagon on top of the bodies of Schwerner and Goodman.

Jordan joined Snowden and others in Barnette's car following gravel roads until they reached a dam.

Once there, Jordan heard Billy Wayne Posey say, "I wonder where our operator is? Someone go and get the operator."

Jordan recalled being told to stand guard. He said he and Snowden waited.

After nearly a half hour, they heard a whistle.

"What is it?" Jordan said he asked Snowden.

"Nothing. The operator is there, and they are taking care of things," he quoted Snowden as replying.

Jordan said he heard the bulldozer operating for about 15 minutes before Posey walked over and let them know the operator would finish the job in the morning.

Snowden then asked whether the station wagon was being buried, and Posey replied no, saying the wagon would be taken to Alabama and burned.

Jordan said Barnette picked him and Snowden up.

Barnette told the FBI he, Snowden and others met afterward with Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, who told them, "I'll kill anybody who talks, even if it was my own brother."

When FBI agents later confronted Snowden about his sawed-off shotgun, he told them it had been stolen from his vehicle, but he had never bothered to fill out a police report.

Posey, Jordan, Barnette, Price and Rainey are all dead.

Killen remains the lone suspect in the case to be tried for murder. He was convicted of manslaughter in 2005 and is serving 60 years in prison.

The other suspects still living are Richard Willis, Olen Burrage and Pete Harris.

Snowden, now 76, spent two years in prison on federal conspiracy charges.

"He's vulnerable to any new state indictment," observed Philip Dray, co-author of We Are Not Afraid, which details the trio's killing.

To comment on this story, call Jerry Mitchell at (601) 961-7064.

Contact An American Civil Rights Veteran Today:

More On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio:
W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio: 46th Annual Civil Rights Martyrs Memorial Service Preview & Curtis Flowers Trial Update

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio: A Philadelphia Story: Remembering Goodman, Chaney & Schwerner...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio: 45th Annual Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs
Memorial Service & Conference & March For Justice
*Pre-Event Show With Bro. John Gibson*

A Great Profile Of Civil Rights Cold Case Justice Crusader Alvin Sykes...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special~Meet Alvin Sykes: Civil Rights Cold Case Justice Crusader...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: The Shame Of A Nation...The Emmett Till Legacy

See More Emmett Till On W.E. A.L.L. B.E.:

FBI Report: Woman Emmett Till 'Whistled' @ Still Alive...

What I Will Teach My Black Son To Fear....

Park In Honor Of Emmett Till Opens Friday Sept. 19, 2008, in Mississippi...

Mississippi Comes Face To Face With Brutal Past In Emmett Till Exhibit...

Tha Artivist Remembers Ernest Withers (1922-2007)...

Mississippi Still Burning Like Southern California...

No Justice, Just Us For EMMETT...

More Dr. Gene Young On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News...

Barack Obama's Installation Is The End Of A Long Road To Washington For America's Civil Rights Campaigners...

In Remembrance of Virgil Ware - Before the September 11 Attacks...

Dr. Young Gives Food For Thought On What It's Like To Be A Civil Rights Pioneer...

Hear The Wisdom Of Dr. Young On These Following W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: Yes He Did...So Now What??? Defining The Obama Presidency...

April 13, 2008~The State Of Black America Part One*

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: February 18, 2007~"We Shall Overcome"-The Henry Hampton Collection (Creator of the Award Winning Eyes On The Prize Documentary)

No comments: