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Reputed Klansman Imprisoned For 1964 Killings Dies In Prison

In 2007, James Ford Seale was belatedly convicted for his role in the 1964 abduction and killing of two black men in rural Mississippi. Seale died in jail Tuesday, while serving three life sentences. He was 76.

The AP has some background:

Seale was convicted of two counts of kidnapping and one of conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the 1964 deaths of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, both 19.

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.

Seale was thought dead until 2005, when he was discovered living in a town close to where the teens were abducted. That was also when Moore's brother, Thomas Moore, convinced a U.S. attorney to take up the case. Seale was convicted in 2007.

The Clarion Ledger of Jackson, Miss., spoke to Thomas Moore who said, "Ain't no rejoicing in it. I do offer my sympathies to the family."

The paper makes a broader point that in cases like the "Mississippi Burning" one suspects remain at large and as people die, the information they might provide goes with them.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.