One of the most troubling incidents during the civil rights struggle in the South happened July 12, 1964, it was the 21st day of the search for civil rights workers Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman in Mississippi. There were over 400 sailors who were working with the FBI searching the woods, swamps, and rivers.
A brutalized corpse of a man was found across the state in an offshoot of the Mississippi River on the Louisiana side. There were speculation that it was the body of a civil rights worker. The very next day, a few miles south, another body was found, also tortured, and people thought another body of a civil rights worker had been discovered. But, the bodies were of two totally different men.
Both of the men were #black and had been missing since early May in Meadville, Mississippi. With that news came the awful realization that a search of any river or swamp in South Mississippi might reveal the unpleasant extremes to what the Ku Klux Klan would go through to preserve white supremacy. On the 44th day, the 3 civil rights workers were found buried. But the mystery remained as to what had happened to Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore who had just been discovered; it took four decades for the story behind the murders to be made public.
At the time of the disappearance Dee was a 19-year-old sawmill worker, and Moore was a 20-year old college student. After a deep investigation, the FBI learned that Klansmen had picked the two men who were hitchhiking up and took them deep into Homochitto National Forest which was located about 25 miles from Natchez. James Seale, who was a policeman at the time held a gun on the young men and interrogated them, while the other Klansmen beat them with bean poles, limbs, and whatever they could get their hands on. The men were beaten so badly that they were barely alive. After the beating, many of the Klansmen left while others helped Seale, and his brother stuff Dee and Moore into the trunk of a car and drive them into Louisiana. Once the men arrived into Louisiana, they chained Dee and Moore to an engine block and train rails, then threw them into a lake formed by the Mississippi River while the young men were still alive.
The Seale brothers and Klansmen had lived with the secret for many years until a newspaper journalists and filmmaker David Ridgen began investigating the case. In 2005, Ridgen and #Charles Moore’s brother, Thomas Moore, arrived in Mississippi with video-camera equipment, records, and evidence from various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Their investigation become an award-winning television documentary, Mississippi Cold Case. The men took their information to the U.S Attorney, and the cameras were rolling when the attorney pledged to prosecute if enough evidence was found on the case.
Ridgen and Moore had discovered plenty evidence including the only known photograph to exist of Dee dead or alive. They produced a racist letter Seale wrote a few days after the attack. And they found a former FBI agent who had heard Seale make self-incriminating remarks in 1964. Federal prosecutors offered Edwards immunity if he would testify against Seale, Edwards did so, first to a grand jury, then at trial. Seale was convicted. It is still unknown why it took prosecutors 40 years to bring charges against the men.