“Mississippi Burning” case files open at State Archives

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Monday, leaders with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) announced the “Mississippi Burning” case files are now open.

The case files, photographs and other records documented the 1964 murders of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. The materials were gathered and compiled by the Mississippi Attorney General’s office in its 2004 reopening of the Mississippi Burning case and investigation, which culminated in the June 2005 trial and conviction of Edgar Ray Killen.

Former Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood officially closed the investigation in 2016, and the files were transferred to MDAH in spring 2019.

Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were abducted and killed on June 21, 1964, during Freedom Summer and buried in an earthen dam. The bodies of the civil rights workers were found on August 4, 1964.

In October 1967, the federal government charged eighteen men with conspiracy, including Killen. Neshoba County Sheriff Deputy Cecil Price, Sam Bowers, and five others were convicted. The jury failed to convict Killen. In 2005, he was convicted of manslaughter in the 1964 slayings.

The materials are available to the public free of charge at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, located at 200 North Street in Jackson.

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