Indictment could spur more phone calls, attorney for group offering reward says

The Associated Press

JACKSON – Fifteen people have responded to the $100,000 reward offered by the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference in the investigation of the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County.

With the recent indictment of Edgar Ray Killen, Religious Leadership Conference attorney Wayne Drinkwater believes even more people could respond.

“I'm hoping that his indictment and arrest may make people realize that there is enough seriousness behind the effort for them to come forward after 40 years,” he said.

The reward was posted on Dec. 20 for information involving the June 21, 1964, killings of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney.

Killen, a 79-year-old sawmill owner and preacher indicted Jan. 6, has pleaded innocent to three counts of murder. His trial was set for March 28.

A reputed former Klan leader, Killen allegedly directed the activities of the Klansmen who killed the three voter registration workers.

Attorney General Jim Hood said the investigation is continuing, but would not comment on the reward or how many calls authorities have received.

Hood has made a public plea for former FBI informants to come forward and cooperate with the investigation. The informants would be eligible to seek the reward money being offered by the group.

The Religious Leadership Conference was formed in the wake of the killings. They have helped rebuild churches burned down by the Klan.

An anonymous donor put up the money, with an independent panel overseeing its distribution.

The reward won't be given until there's a verdict and appeals are concluded.

The organization plans to take out advertisements in newspapers that circulate in and around Neshoba County, Drinkwater said.

“Obviously we want to remind people about the reward and remind them about how to get in touch (with the attorney general's office).”