Monday, November 26, 2012

Civil Rights Era Murder Cold Cases Remain Open, Active

Wharlest Jackson -- case to remain open and active
Four civil rights-era murder investigations in the greater Central Louisiana area are among the 20 cases that will remain open and active, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report.
The report was made to Congress outlining progress of cases the FBI was authorized to investigate under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007.
Congress authorized the Justice Department to reopened 112 cold cases involving 125 victims from the 1950s and '60s, giving the FBI authority to investigate these 40- to 50-year-old hate crimes. The report indicates that 11 of the 112 cold cases were closed in 2012, bringing the total number of closed cases to 92. The 20 remaining cases account for 27 victims.
Cases remaining open from the geater Central Louisiana area include the following victims::
» Joseph Edwards who died on July 12, 1964, in Vidalia, Miss.
» Wharlest Jackson who died on Feb. 27, 1967, in Natchez, Miss.
» Frank Morris who died on Dec. 14, 1964, in Ferriday.
» William Piercefield who died on July 24, 1965, in Concordia Parish.
Also remaining open are investigations into the deaths of Louisiana residents Carrie Brumfield, who died on Sept. 12, 1967, in Franklinton and O'Neal Moore who died on June 2, 1965, in Varnado.
A team of student journalists from LSU began investigating these cold case murders in 2010, gaining access through the Freedom of Information Act to more than 35,000 pages of declassified FBI documents from the original investigations.
Convictions for these decades-old crimes are hard to achieve as witnesses and suspects die. The report states that only six convictions, some which preceded the Till Act, have been obtained in the last decade.
When a case is closed, primarily because suspects are dead or it is felt the death was not racially motivated, a letter from the Justice Department is hand-delivered to the surviving next-of-kin, if they can be located, explaining what the FBI found.

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