JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Federal and state authorities said this week they’re ending the investigation of the 1964 “Mississippi Burning” killings, one of the most infamous cases in the violent backlash to the civil rights movement.
Tuesday marked 52 years since Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were abducted and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, and the civil rights workers’ legacy is still honored at annual services in the town.
During the first weeks after the crime, some Mississippi residents and officials dismissed the men’s disappearance as a stunt designed to make the state look bad.
Records show that an investigator with the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission speculated the whole thing might be a “hoax.” The commission was a state-funded spy agency that sought to preserve segregation during the civil rights era.