Willie Edwards, Jr., was a 24-year-old #African American, husband and father. He was murdered by the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. On the night of January 22, 1957 a group of armed white men gathered to kill Edwards. The men rode through the town looking for Edwards who had been hired as a driver for Winn-Dixie. Edwards had left work and was home when he received a call from his boss asking him to return to work because an employee had called in sick.
The Klansmen sat outside at Edwards’s job waiting for him. As they sat in the car they saw Edwards show up to work thinking that he was the person that had been sleeping with a white woman. Edwards was beaten by the group of men inside their car as they drove him around the city. The men stopped at a bridge along the Alabama River and at gunpoint made Edwards jump from the bridge. He fell 125 feet to his death. Months passed by before his body washed up on shore of the river. The decomposition of the body made it difficult for officials to tell what caused his death.
In 1976, then State Attorney General Bill Baxley re-opened the Edwards case. Four people were arrested and charged with Edward’s murder: Sonny Kyle Livingston Jr., Henry Alexander, James York, and Raymond Britt, Jr. Britt broke the long silence with his affidavit (in exchange for immunity), dated February 20, 1976. Alabama Judge Frank Embry dismissed the charges, even with Britt’s sworn testimony because no cause of death was ever established. The judge concluded that “merely forcing a person to jump from a bridge” does not naturally and probably lead to the death of such person. At the request of Edwards’s daughter the case was reopened in 1997. The District Attorney presented a new case and in 1999 Edwards death was ruled a homicide.