Posted Oct. 31, 2007 – In 1964, Mafia heavy Gregory Scarpa, nicknamed “The Grim Reaper,” put a gun in the mouth of a Ku Klux Klansman and threatened to blow his brains out to help the FBI locate the bodies of three civil rights workers who had been lynched in Mississippi, The Associated Press reports.
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On Monday, the mobster’s ex-girlfriend, Linda Schiro, became the first witness to confirm the story in open court.
It had been rumored for years that the mob had assisted federal investigators in finding the bodies of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, who were bludgeoned and shot by a gang of Klansmen and buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Miss, 43 years ago. The high-profile case was depicted in the movie “Mississippi Burning.” The FBI has never revealed its connection with the Grim Reaper, a member of the Colombo crime family who died in prison over a dozen years ago.
Schiro testified for the prosecution at the trial of R. Lindley DeVecchio, the former FBI agent charged with murder in perhaps the biggest law enforcement corruption case in history. DeVecchio, pictured right, is accused of supplying Scarpa, pictured left, with everything from cash and jewelry to liquor and prostitutes in exchange for inside info on mob figures in the late 1980s and early 1990s, AP reports.
Once the civil rights workers were listed as missing, and the news of their apparent murder was splayed across the national headlines, FBI agents searched frantically but fruitlessly as Klan members refused to tell where the bodies were buried.
In 1994, AP reports, the New York Daily News cited confidential FBI officials who said that a frustrated J. Edgar Hoover turned to the Mafia for help, which strong-armed the info from a Mississippi appliance salesman and Klansman.
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