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Cold Case Initiative Update

Cold Case Initiative
Seeking Information on More Than 100 Civil Rights-Era Murders

02/26/09

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The FBI has released the names of some of the victims of civil rights murders that occurred before 1969 in hopes that people with any information on the cases will come forward.

More than 100 unsolved murder cases are under review through the Civil Rights Era Cold Case Initiative, a 2007 partnership between the FBI, civil rights groups, and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Today’s release of a partial listing of victims marks the two-year anniversary of the initiative, announced on February 27, 2007 by the Attorney General and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. This list includes the victims’ names and the dates and locations of their deaths. (Note: The List was updated on October 9, 2009.)

The initiative was launched on the heels of several successful prosecutions of civil rights-era cases, most recently the 2007 conviction of James Ford Seale for kidnapping two African-American teenagers, who were subsequently killed, in Mississippi in 1964. Other notable cases include the 2005 conviction of Edgar Ray Killen for his role in the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers—the Mississippi Burning case—and the 2001 convictions of two men who bombed a Birmingham, Alabama church in 1963, killing four African-American girls.

In announcing the Cold Case Initiative in 2007, Director Mueller said the successes in decades-old cases “restored our hope and renewed our resolve.”

“We cannot turn back the clock,” Mueller said. “We cannot right these wrongs. But we can try to bring a measure of justice to those who remain.”

The case of James Ford Seale was revived in 2005 after a documentary filmmaker probed the case, prompting the FBI’s Jackson, Mississippi office to reexamine old records. The FBI enlisted the aid of special agents who worked the original 1964 case. Working with the local U.S. Attorney’s Office, they gathered enough evidence to present to a grand jury, which issued an indictment in January 2007.

Retired Special Agent James Ingram was one of the original agents on the case. In a 2007 interview, he said that some witnesses are more willing to come forward with the passage of time. “Some are relieved to talk after 40 years and get it off their chest.”

If you have any information concerning any of the cases, contact your local FBI office or American Embassy or Consulate.

Resources:
-
Civil Rights page
- Civil Rights-Era Cold Case Initiative