In 1964, the remains of Charles Moore and Henry Dee, two African American teenagers from Mississippi, were pulled from the backwater of the Mississippi River.
At the time of the discovery authorities were searching for the bodies of civil rights workers Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. The story of murder of these civil rights workers and the subsequent hunt for their killers was brought to life in the 1988 movie Mississippi Burning.
The police had no idea that during this search they would stumble upon even more victims of the KKK’s brutal campaign to preserve white supremacy.
They soon discovered that Moore and Dee had been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan two months earlier. But their killers wouldn’t be brought to justice for another 40 years.
Now the current number one podcast on iTunes, Someone Knows Something, is delving into how Moore and Dee’s families finally found peace after four decades of searching.
On May 2, 1964, at the height of the civil rights movement and right at the beginning of the Freedom Summer, Moore and Dee were picked up by KKK members while hitchhiking in Meadville, Mississippi.
Klansman James Ford Seale pulled over to the side of the road and ordered the two 19-year-old men into his Volkswagen. The teenagers had no idea that another car full of KKK members, including a man named Charles Marcus Edwards, were following behind them.
The KKK took the young men into the Homochitto National Forest where they beat them until they were barely alive. Some of the Klansmen, including Edwards, then left while others drove Moore and Dee down to the bank of the Mississippi River.
There, the Klansmen duct-taped their mouths, and tied their wrists and ankles together, before throwing them into the river.
Moore and Dee drowned that day. The teens would be listed as missing until their bodies were unexpectedly found on July 2 and 3 that year.
Seale and Edwards were then arrested for the murders but the charges were dropped.
In 2005, filmmaker David Ridgen of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp decided to look into the case. He met Thomas Moore, a retired command sergeant major and brother to the late Charles Moore.
Together they re-opened the case. They gathered more than 500 hours worth of video, audio and photographs from witnesses, family members, Klansmen and the authorities. All of this evidence would later be made into the documentary Mississippi Cold Case and would form the basis for season three of Someone Knows Something.
During their investigation they discovered that both Seale and Edwards were still alive and they had been lying about their roles in the murders for over 40 years.
With Ridgen and Moore’s evidence prosecutors were able to offer immunity to Edwards if he testified against Seale. He did, first to a grand jury, and then at trial.
Seale was ultimately convicted of the murders and handed three life sentences.
At the trial Edwards admitted that he was the one who identified Moore as a potential target as he thought he was wearing a Black Panther headband.
“He fit the profile of a Black Panther. He wore a black bandana on his head all the time. It seemed to me that would be the profile of a Black Panther,” he told the courtroom.
Neither Moore or Dee had played any role in the civil rights movement.
During the trial, Edwards also asked for forgiveness from Moore and Dee’s family members.
“I can’t undo what was done 40 years ago, and I’m sorry for that,” he continued. “And I ask you for your forgiveness for my part in that crime. That’s exactly what I wanted to say to you.”
Later Thomas Moore would meet Edwards and offer his forgiveness in a powerful moment that was captured on camera for the documentary.
“I believe in the same God that you believe in. In the 18th chapter of Matthew, Peter asks, ‘How many times should you forgive your brother?’ And he answered, I will forgive seven times. But Jesus Christ said, ‘No, not only seven times…’” Moore began.
“…but seventy times seven,” Edwards spontaneously finished Moore’s sentence.
Moore then said, “So you are forgiven.”
“I appreciate it,” Edwards replied. “God bless you.”
Someone Knows Something will dig deeper into this unexpected story of forgiveness and redemption and seek to find out how anyone could be so gracious in the face of such a horrifying crime.
You can listen to all six episodes of Someone Knows Something on iTunes now.
True crime buff? You need to watch Alias Grace on Netflix.
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