July 12, 1964: Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee’s Mangled Torsos Discovered

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July 12, 1964: During the frantic search for the three civil rights workers (Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman & James Chaney), who disappeared June 21st in the “Mississippi Burning” case, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee’s mangled torsos were discovered.

But when it was discovered that the bodies were those of two black men and not those of the civil rights workers, two of whom were white, media interest evaporated and the press moved on.

The FBI investigated the case and arrested two suspects, they were soon released and the case dropped by local authorities, some of whom were complicit in the crime according to FBI and HUAC documents.

Mississippi Cold Case is a 2007 feature documentary produced by David Ridgen of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the Ku Klux Klan murders of two 19-year-old black youth in 1964 and a brother’s quest for justice.

41 years after the murders, just weeks before Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of manslaughter in the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, David Ridgen convinced Thomas Moore to return to Mississippi to seek justice for his brother and Henry Dee.

Filmmaker Ridgen and the CBC organized and funded the entire production. Ridgen has documented Moore on trips spanning over 26 months. A short version of the documentary premiered on February 11, 2007 on CBC.

A one-hour version aired on MSNBC on June 9, 2007.

A full feature length version of the film has been completed.

Moore’s quest and the documentary about it first caused state officials to re-open their investigation into the case. The case had been re-opened in 2000 by former US Attorney Brad Pigott, but closed again in June 2003 after Pigott and the USDOJ Civil Rights Division decided not to proceed based on the evidence.

It was re-opened in early July 2005 after Moore and Ridgen visited US Attorney Dunn Lampton at his office. Previously, Moore and Ridgen had been told by a prominent Mississippi journalist that James Ford Seale was dead; that had also been reported elsewhere in the media.

Shortly after Ridgen and Moore arrived in Mississippi, District Attorney Ronnie Harper told them, on the morning of July 8, 2005, that Seale was alive. They did not believe him. Later that day, Moore’s cousin Kenny Byrd told Ridgen and Moore that Seale was still alive. This was confirmed when Byrd pointed out Seale’s motor home just a short distance away.

Through the course of the production of Mississippi Cold Case, pressure put on the murder conspirators and officials by Thomas Moore over more than 24 months along with other evidence discovered – including the finding of important witnesses willing to testify and new documents – the case was brought before a Grand Jury, and alleged kidnapper and killer, James Ford Seale, was indicted and arrested.

On January 24, 2007, Seale appeared in federal court in Jackson, Mississippi and was charged with two counts of kidnapping, and one count of conspiracy to kidnap two persons. Seale pleaded not guilty and was denied bond on January 29, 2007 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson.

Amid many motion hearings from the defense and prosecution, Seale’s trial was set for May 30, 2007, in Jackson, Mississippi. Seale was convicted by a majority-white jury on June 14, 2007.

On August 24, 2007, James Seale was sentenced to 3 life sentences for one count of conspiracy to kidnap two persons and two counts of kidnapping where the victims were not released alive.

On August 5, 2008 Thomas Moore and Thelma Collins, Henry Dee’s sister, filed a federal complaint in a Natchez, MS court claiming state complicity in the deaths of Henry Dee and Charles Moore. The suit claims that in Franklin County in 1964, Sheriff Wayne Hutto and his chief deputy, Kirby Shell, conspired with the Klansmen who abducted and killed Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore. The plaintiffs are seeking a federal jury trial for damages.

On June 21, 2010 Franklin County, Mississippi agreed to an undisclosed settlement in the civil suit with the families of Charles Moore and Henry Dee.

On September 9, 2008, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Seale’s lawyer that the statute of limitations in the case had expired. The conviction was overturned.

“The more than 40-year delay clearly exceeded the limitations period,” the 20-page ruling written by Judge Harold DeMoss said.

When charges were laid against Seale in January 2007, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Seale had not been charged with murder because prosecutors deemed it too difficult to prove.

In 2009, the conviction was reinstated by that court sitting en banc the following year.

He was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he died in 2011. He was 76.

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