How FBI Is Investigating “Cold” Civil-Rights-Era Murders


The federal government is reexamining nearly 100 cold murder cases from the civil-rights era 40 years ago. It’s an effort the Christian Science Monitor says “is being helped by changing attitudes of law enforcement and the public in the South, even among former supremacists.” Most of the cases are from Mississippi. Others include the 1968 “Orangeburg Massacre” at South Carolina State University where state police shot and killed three student protesters and the 1967 shooting death of Carrie Brumfield, whose body was found on a rural Louisiana road.

“Many murders during the civil rights era were not fully investigated, were covered up or were misidentified as accidental death or disappearance. Many trails ran cold,” says FBI Director Robert Mueller. Since 1989, federal and local authorities in seven states have arrested 28 people and convicted 22 of them for involvement in 29 civil rights era killings. Those prosecutions, mostly in Mississippi and Alabama, have “proved that you can take old evidence and repackage it in a way that strikes at the heart of juries today,” says a former U.S. Attorney.


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