The man convicted for his involvement in the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers in Mississippi has died in prison.
Edgar Ray Killen, who would have turned 93 on Jan. 17, was pronounced dead Thursday at 9 p.m. at the hospital at the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
Killen was serving a total of 60 years for manslaughter for the June 21, 1964, deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County.
His first trial in 1967 ended in a mistrial. He was retried 38 years later after the state reopened the murder investigations, and was convicted on June 21, 2005. He was sentenced June 23, 2005 to three consecutive 20-year sentences. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his convictions in 2007.
Neshoba County’s former NAACP president says it’s not a time of celebration, it’s more of a reflection that shows how far Philadelphia has come.
“We are no longer defined by the time Edgar Ray Killen was alive and in control of the Klan in Neshoba County,” Leroy Clemons said. “This city has come a long way. We’ve made great strides. We have tremendous relationships between Blacks, Whites and Native Americans in this city now. ”
The cause and manner of death are pending an autopsy. However, no foul play is suspected.