Black Then Mysteries: The Death of Deputy O’Neal Moore

0 Posted by - June 30, 2017 - CIVIL RIGHTS, Racism

Washington Parish, Louisiana. 1965. O’Neal Moore and friend David “Creed” Rogers were the parish’s first Black deputies, joining the Sheriff’s department the year prior.

The 40,000+ community of Washington Parish was mixed on having Black deputies and the integration of the department. The two were subjected to harassment and threats from angry White locals for a year but June 2 would prove to be an extreme case.


On the evening of June 2, Moore and friend Rogers, were ending their day when they were followed by a black truck. “I noticed it had a white grill and rebel plates on the front,” Rogers recounted on a November 1990 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. The truck drove around, got next to the deputies, and someone shot into the police car.

Both deputies were hit and the car crashed into a tree. The assailants continued shooting as they sped away. One of those shots would prove fatal to Deputy O’Neal Moore who died at 34. Deputy Creed Rogers managed to describe the truck of the attackers and a similar truck was found some 25 miles from the scene in Tollertown, Mississippi. White supremacist Ernest Ray McElveen and another were arrested but eventually released on $25,000 bond.

With no other evidence, charges were dropped.



As this was 1965 and it is the South, the main suspects were the Ku Klux Klan.  The group was quick to deny responsibility for the murder.  The Sheriff’s office continued to look into the murder and attack with Deputy Doyle Holiday being the main officer assigned to the case. An attempt on his life followed two weeks after the incident with someone shooting into the office.

O’Neal Moore’s widow Maevella Sam said that the attack didn’t run other Black deputies out of law enforcement and that another was added to the office. Still looking for information, Governor John McKeithen issued a $25,000 reward. No one talked to the FBI or the state and case went cold in 1967.

Doyle Holiday believed that the Klan managed to keep lip sealed by intimidation. “They would not give you a lead on anything, for fear of their house being burnt, or some member of their family being hurt, or something to that effect,” he said in an interview on Unsolved Mysteries. “Back then, they didn’t want anything to do with the FBI, the state police, or the local police.”



Twenty years later, three informants reached out to the New Orleans FBI branch via letter and phone. The case was reopened with Special Agent Michael Heimbach leading the investigation. He noted that one of the letters detailed the people involved and the escape route of the truck. His belief was that the killers were Klan members, but it wasn’t Klan-ordered.

The FBI revisited in 1990, 2001, and 2007 but made no progress on suspects. A Civil Rights Era team—The Cold Case Initiative—examined the case in 2009 with no results.

Doyle Holiday passed away in 1998. Suspect Ernest Ray McElveen passed in 2003. In 1988 David “Creed” Rogers retired from law enforcement as a Sheriff’s Office captain and passed away in 2007.


-Injustice Files:

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