WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Mississippi found James Ford Seale, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, guilty for his role in the kidnapping, abductions and eventual slayings of two African-American men in 1964.
Seale and other Klansmen conspired to abduct, interrogate, beat and eventually murder Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charlie Eddie Moore, both 19 years old at the time. According to evidence presented at trial, Seale and his co-conspirators believed that Dee might have knowledge about African Americans importing firearms to Franklin County.
“Today’s conviction of James Ford Seale brings some long overdue justice to the families of Henry Dee and Charles Moore, who were brutally murdered more than 40 years ago,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “Racially motivated violence—whenever it occurred—will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I would like to thank the dedicated professionals at the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Civil Rights Division for their hard work in seeing that justice was done in this case.”
Evidence presented at trial showed that on May 2, 1964, the defendant and his accomplices abducted Dee and Moore and drove the two young men into the Homochitto National Forest in Franklin County, Mississippi, where the Klansmen beat the victims and interrogated them at gunpoint. Seale and the other Klansmen then bound the two men with duct tape.
The Klansmen then drove the victims to Parker’s Landing in Warren County, Miss., on a route that took them through the state of Louisiana. Once at Parker’s Landing, the Klansmen secured Dee to an engine block and threw him into the Old Mississippi River, drowning him. The Klansmen next secured iron weights to Moore, and also threw him into the water.
Several months after the kidnappings and murders, divers recovered from the river the badly decomposed remains of the two young men.
James Ford Seale is the first and only individual to be convicted for participating in the kidnapping and murders.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the investigation and prosecution of unsolved civil rights era murder cases. The Department of Justice continues to play a central role in this important effort.
Today’s conviction resulted from the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Adam’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety also assisted in the investigation. This case was prosecuted by Dunn Lampton, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, Paige Fitzgerald, Special Litigation Counsel and Trial Attorney Eric Gibson, both of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.