A man convicted in the deaths of three civil rights workers in MS died in prison.
Edgar Ray Killen (seated) smiles outside the Neshoba County Courthouse after a bond hearing of his manslaughter case in Philadelphia, Mississippi, August 12, 2005.
According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Edgar Ray Killen was pronounced dead at the hospital at the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections says Killen's cause of death is pending an autopsy, but that he was suffering from congestive heart failure and hypertension. Authorities said no foul play is suspected.
At age 80, he was convicted on June 21, 2005, based on new evidence unveiled in 2000 and was sentenced to three consecutive 20-year sentences. In a 2015 interview with the Associated Press, Killen refused to discuss his case but said he was still a segregationist, although he had no ill will for blacks.
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner initially went missing after being arrested by local police and then released.
The three civil rights workers, all in their 20s, were ambushed on June 21, 1964.
"The 15 men who murdered Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney weren't indicted, much less tried".
Killen was the only person charged, even though other suspects were still living. Goodman and Schwerner were both Jewish. Their disappearance became a national news story and federal agents were sent to search for them.
Their bodies were discovered 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam. He was the only one of the culprits to be convicted of murder charges.
The three men were initially considered missing, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined in the search to find them.
The jury convicted Killen of manslaughter, which some of the victims' families found insufficient. "I'm sorry they got themselves killed". His attorneys conceded Killen was a member of the Klan and the trial featured testimony that he had lauded the KKK as a benevolent Christian group that would keep schools segregated.
Edgar Ray Killen, a part-time Baptist minister and the plot leader, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter almost 13 years ago.
In June 2016, the state of MS finally officially closed the case.