Mississippi's corrections department says Edgar Ray Killen, a former Ku Klux Klan leader who was convicted in the 1964 "Mississippi Burning" slayings of three civil rights workers, has died in prison at the age of 92. Killen, a tree-cutter and small-time preacher, was a founding member and main recruiter for the KKK in the Philadelphia area of MS in 1964 when James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were investigating a church fire, the New York Times reports.
Killen, who would have turned 93 on Jan.17, was pronounced dead at the hospital at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at 9 p.m. Thursday.
All three young men were in MS participating in the Freedom Summer of 1964.
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He was a farmer, preacher and sawmill operator in MS during the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The events of that night in Mississippi inspired the critically acclaimed 1988 film "Mississippi Burning", starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. "The only person tried was Edgar Ray Killen, who wasn't even there", David Goodman said.
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The cause death is pending an autopsy.
"Mississippi authorities reopened the case after finding out Sam Bowers said the main instigator had gotten away with murder and that was Edgar Ray Killen As we reported about that they reopened the case", according to Michell.
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