I came across a startling fact yesterday in doing some research for an upcoming profile of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., — some suspects in Civil Rights-era killings have yet to be successfully prosecuted. In a Nov. 28, 2011, blog post Jerry Mitchell, an award-winning investigative reporter for the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, said that included two living suspects from the infamous “Mississippi Burning” abductions and killings.
According to his Clarion-Ledger biography, Mitchell began investigating and reporting on Civil Rights-era cold cases after he saw the film Mississippi Burning in 1989. His work has helped inspire the U.S. Justice Department, and authorities in Mississippi and six other states to reexamine dozens of killings, and helped lead to four convictions, including the 2005 sentencing of Edgar Ray Killen for planning and directing the killings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964. (A high school documentary team from Illinois was also instrumental in Killen’s conviction.)