A an elderly White supremacist now serving 60 years in prison for his involvement in the infamous lynching of three 1960s civil rights workers bragged about his ability to avoid prosecution for so many years, a fellow inmate told the FBI.
Larry Ellis, 57, said that Edgar Ray Killen told that his property was never searched, even though he had evidence that could have sent several others to prison for their role in the June 1964 killings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, the three civil rights workers whose disappearance and subsequent search was national news, The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reports. The case, on which the movie “Mississippi Burning” was based, helped speed up passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.
One of the weapons used in the killings was never destroyed and remained on his property, along with other possible evidence, Ellis told the FBI, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
He said Killen, an 84-year-old saw mill operator and part-time preacher, talked of keeping some of the evidence against the killers in case they tried to testify against him, saying, "The evidence proves them guilty, and I mean proves it."
But there were several other killings, Ellis said Killen told him. He mentioned a photograph of those who lynched an unnamed Black man near the Mississippi Gulf Coast — "five of them on that limb, trying not to look" – the Clarion-Ledger reports.
The photograph had come from one of the lynch mob members, Killen said, according to Ellis. It was only one of 11 killings of Blacks that Killen mentioned, Ellis said.
Ellis, 57, who now lives in south Mississippi, has written a book on Killen titled “Getting the Last Word In.” It has not yet been published.
Killen is appealing his 2005 manslaughter conviction. His lawyer, Rob Ratliff of Mobile, said his client never told Ellis anything. Ellis, he said, is "a con man with a history of violence."
But Ellis insists that Killen told him that “the boys said my place was the safest to hide anything because it was never searched even once. …Do you know that not once was my home, property, records or anything searched? Amazing for someone so wanted and hunted."
Why? Killen pointed to his relationship with then-U.S. Sen. Jim Eastland.
“While Big Jim was alive, you can bet your bottom dollar that none of them could get a search warrant to come on any of my property."
In prison, Killen received letters of support from White supremacists around the world, Ellis told the FBI, the Clarion-Ledger writes.
He said Killen bragged: "They think it will all end with me, but my death will be a new beginning for all of the millions of good and pure-blooded Aryans around the nation and world who keep up with me," according to the newspaper.