Following is further DSJV coverage of the Edgar Ray Killen trial for the murders of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney. This is ***in no way*** an official transcript; however, we wanted to make these statements (excerpts) from the trial today available to our readers:
Carolyn Goodman, mother of Andrew Goodman….
This postcard is addressed to myself and my husband to our address in NYC, and it says, “Dear Mom and Dad, I have arrived safely in Meridian, MS. This is a wonderful town and weather is fine, I wish you were here. The people in this city are wonderful and our reception was very good. All my love, Andy”.
Mike Hatcher, former Meridian police officer testified…..
…and then he (Killen) proceeded to tell me, “we got rid of them civil rights workers”. “We got rid of those civil rights workers. And you won’t have no more trouble of ‘goatee’.”
And he began to tell me that they was stopped on Hwy 19 and they had some trouble, one of the people that was supposed to be in on it, a car broke down, and that two highway patrol was supposed to be involved in it, and I don’t remember what their names was, but they backed out. And they ended up shooting them and killing them and buried them in the middle of a pond dam out here off of hwy 21 where a pond was being built, they were buried in a shallow grave. That the bulldozer operator, who I believe he told me he was a Tucker, got there the next morning to cover them up, and then two workers showed up early and found some blood there or something, and that they had to get out there and get them other two people swore in and swore to secret and threatened so they wouldn’t tell….
He told me that the car was supposed to have been covered up too but they, the trouble they had or something with it, with the problem that they had that they didn’t get to, they burned it up and they was worried about them finding it. He told me that he was at the funeral home, signed the book, made sure he talked to people in the front and rear of it, and that was his alibi.…More testimony from Mike Hatcher….
…When they had the Mississippi-Alabama state fair, I seen the preacher (Killen) there and talked with him and he was concerned about the FBI at that time, people was starting to talk and he said that they was trying to trace, check on his phone calls from Philadelphia to Meridian, but he wasn’t really worried about it because he drove to Meridian on the 21st to see Frank Herndon and get the people together. So he wasn’t worried about it. He hoped nobody seen him come to Meridian.
Dean Lytle, former FBI agent testifies about his time in 1963-1964 investigating civil rights cases…
I spent a lot of time in Mississippi… Well, generally it was civil rights cases, we investigated in several cities church burnings, was mainly what we were involved in at the time.
(at Bogue Chitto) …we found a Ford station wagon, metallic blue, hidden about 75-100 feet off the road, on which was then the left-hand side of the road (going north).
…it had been totally burned to a point to where there was nothing left in the interior. The seats were gone. All there was, was the metal springs, and the paint was mostly burned off the vehicle.
We photographed the car, we looked into it without disturbing the contents to see if there was anything we could see. And we did a minor search of the general area in the field…(under defense questioning:)(about remembering the facts of the case) …It was a memorable time. And I was a young, impressionable man at the time.
…more testimony (under re-direct:)I could best describe the people as hostile to the federal agents. They were unhappy we were here. And very few, I can’t recall anybody, that furnished me with any useful information whatsoever. If they knew it, they didn’t tell us. And the night we found the car and brought it to town and put it in Stoke’s garage, we had a meeting in this courthouse with Sheriff Rainey and the captain from the state police. And the meeting went on, from probably 8:00 – 10:00, and when we left, we had eight agents and inspector Sullivan here by that time, who were all in the meeting, and of course by 10:00 it was very dark out. We went out the front door of the courthouse and the square was filled with people. I would guess, the street was, the people were shoulder to shoulder on two sides of the courthouse. And the crowd was a very hostile crowd. There was catcalls and boos, and inspector Sullivan at that time told us that we should all go and get in our cars and stay close together. That we’d leave town as a caravan. Because it, he was, concerned about the safety of the agents.
Oh yes, we talked to people who said they weren’t going to talk to us because if they got involved, they could be the next person in whatever situation it might be. Not a good situation.
Mike Winstead, who at the time of the conversation recalled below was 10 years old, sat on the front steps of his grandfather’s home and heard his grandfather and Edgar Ray Killen, who were sitting in the porch swing, talk about the civil rights workers…
….The only thing I remember about the conversation (between Killen and Winstead’s grandfather) that struck my mind, that stayed in it, I don’t know if I was just paying attention or it was the conversation at the time, but my grandfather asked Edgar Ray if he had anything to do with those boys being killed, and he told my grandfather ‘yes’, and he was proud of it.
Winstead came forward in 2004 with the information after he heard that Richard Barrett (leader of the white supremacist Nationalist Party based in Learned, MS) was going to have a booth at the MS state fair asking people to sign a petition to help Edgar Ray Killen. ((Barrett backed out, and there was no booth after public outcry.)) Winstead is an inmate at the Jefferson County Prison and offered the information to his supervisor after he had told his fellow inmates about overhearing the conversation. He told the supervisor that it wasn’t much, but that he would tell what he knew.
The testimony of Wallace Miller (now deceased) was read to the jury. Wallace was a former Klan member and FBI informant.
…Some of the members wanted to whip Schwerner.
…Mr. Killen told us to leave him alone, that another unit was going to take care of him, that his elimination had been approved. By the Imperial Wizard. He didn’t use his name at that time, just by the ‘Imperial Wizard’.
…He told me they burned the church to get the civil rights workers up there, referring to Schwerner.
…He told me that he wanted to talk to me. He and I went back to my back room. And he sat on the bed. And we were discussing the civil rights workers. Mr. Killen told me that they had been shot, that they were dead, and they were buried in a dam about fifteen feet deep.
The testimony of James Jorden, now deceased, was read from the 1967 trial transcript…
We were told that as soon as we got to Philadelphia, to park on the far side of the courthouse and we would be told where to go and what to do….
Yes sir. We went to the far side of the courthouse. Saw Mr. Barnett standing out there beside his pickup truck.
He told us to wait right there. That he had to leave, and he got in his truck and left. Said somebody would come tell us what to do.
Reverend Killen came from around the corner. Told us that he would take us by and show us the jail. And then we would be told where to wait until they were released.
He got in the car and we drove around the corner by the jail. And then he took us to the spot where we was supposed to wait behind an old warehouse, right on the edge of town.
We took him back to a funeral home there in Philadelphia.
He said he that had to go there because if anything happened, he would be the first one questioned.
It was Doyle, Travis, Jimmy Snowden and myself.
We sat there approximately 10 or 15 minutes, about that time a city police car came up and said, “they’re going on highway 19 toward Meridian. Follow them.”…
…at that time, there was a red car ahead of us, and that’s what we did. A red Chevrolet. There was some more men in it.
We came back out to the outskirts of Philadelphia. The red car pulled over beside a highway patrol car, and we pulled up behind it.
The man driving the red car got out and said something to the patrol car. And he walked back to our car and said, “never mind. They will be stopped by the deputy sheriff. These men are not going to stop them.”
Posey. There was Sharp, another young man, and Wayne Roberts.
About that time, the deputy’s car came by, said something to the man in the red car, and the deputy’s car. And we took off to follow them.
(Deputy) Cecil Price.
Well, we were following the red car as we were told to do. We got on down the highway a good ways and the car broke down. Evidently it broke down, it stopped beside the road, we stopped behind it. Posey told us to come on, to go ahead, that we’d be stopped anyway by the sheriff. The deputy sheriff. And we were to follow them. He got in the car with us and left this young man there to try and fix his car.
We went on back toward Meridian from Philadelphia to a cut-off highway. I don’t remember, I don’t know which number it is, toward Union. We were traveling at a pretty high rate of speed, and about that time, we caught the tail end of the deputy’s car ahead of us.
We saw a little wagon in front of him, which he had pulled over to the side of the road.
(what make wagon) I don’t know, sir. I didn’t get that close to him at that time.
He turned on his red light.
We pulled up behind him. He got out and went up and told the three men that they were in the car to get out.
Yes sir, they got out. He told them to get in his car.
The deputy sheriff.
They got back in the car. Posey told ours to get in their car, and we followed them and turned back.
They got in the car.
Well, I heard a thunk, like the deputy was rushing them up to get them in there. Or where he hit one of them, or the car or what, but I did hear a thunk.
Two white men, one negro.
Turned the cars around, came back towards highway 19……more testimony…
…well, I heard a car door slamming, some loud talking. I couldn’t understand or distinguish anyone’s voice or anything, then I heard several shots.
Walked up the road towards where the noise came from.
Just a bunch of men milling and standing around that had been in the two cars ahead of us. Then someone said, “better pick up these shells.” I hollered, “what do you want me to do?”.
Yes sir, beside the road. They were lying down.
I presume so, yes sir.
We put them through the back window of the trunk lid of their wagon.
At that time the highway deputy, or the deputy sheriff’s car, turned around and went back toward highway 19. Posey said, “just follow me. I know where we’re going.”
Got back in all the cars. Posey and some of the boys were in the wagon. Got back in the car to follow Posey, because he said he knew where we were going.
We were all up there….
…I don’t know sir. We went the same road we were on, we kept on veering back toward Philadelphia. I thought on the road we were on at the time, come to the edge of Philadelphia, turned back to the left of town until we came to the edge where the lights were and then down several more dirt roads. Then I found out later to the dam site, I found out later, I did not know at the time where it was. I thought it was construction. We went through a barbwire fence and was there.
Opened the back of the station wagon, took the boys out, and took them down to this hollow.
Posey told us to go back up the road and listen out, that the operator was not there yet. So Jim Snowden and I walked back up the road to wait.
Then at that time we thought we heard something coming through the woods but it was nothing but a cow, and about that time he said Doyle and Raymond Sharpe were going to find the bulldozer operator because he wasn’t there when we got there, so they left to go and get him.
Well they came back in a different way. They did not come back in by us at that time and we heard someone whistle across the way and Snowden said, “I’ll go see who it is” and he walked down the road just a little ways, came back and said it must be the operator and about that time we heard the bulldozer crank up.
I don’t know, twenty minutes, at that time I wasn’t counting the time.
We got back in the car and then we were going to put the license plate back on it which had been taken off of Doyle Barnett’s car.
Posey told us we could go back to this place and put the license plate back on the car and Sharpe knew the way to come round the road and that he would wait there and take the operator back.
He said the station wagon, don’t worry about it – it would be taken to Alabama and be burned.
He said by the operator.
He said, “Herman will take it to Alabama” is all I know.
We went back to a warehouse and office building and gas pump on the outside of Philadelphia…
Retired FBI agent Jay Cochran, Jr. testified about finding the bodies…
As I recall, the property was owned by a Mr. Owen Burridge of Neshoba county.
There were nine other agents and myself assigned to work on the exhumation in the dam. And we gathered at a point on Highway 21 immediately to the east of the location of the dam, and awaited first the heavy construction equipment that was enroute from Jackson to our location.
We had contracted for a bulldozer with a ten foot blade and a drag line, which is a bucket suspended on a cable from a crane and used to drag across the ground and pick up scoops of dirt. That equipment arrived at our location on state highway at about 7:40 or 7:45 that morning. We then radioed to two agents who were situated near Mr. Burridge’s home and told them we were ready when they served the warrant. They served the warrant, then advised us the warrant had been served by radio, and we then entered the property.…more testimony…
…this process went on until about 2:50 in the afternoon at which time we began to smell the odor of decaying material….…more testimony…
…we noticed the heels of a pair of boots.
…about 5:00 discovered a body laying face down and from it we were able to remove from the rear pocket, we were able to remove a billfold which contained the Selective Service card of Michael Schwerner.
…again were able, based upon a wallet in the trousers of the second body, body number two, to reveal the Selective Service card of Andrew Goodman.
…(the third body) it was the body, as we could plainly see, of a negro male.…more testimony……body number one was subsequently identified in the identification division in Washington based on fingerprints from an arrest record where Mr. Schwerner had been arrested in MS sometime prior to this incident.
…with regard to Andrew Goodman, his body was identified based on latent fingerprints taken from his personal effects taken from his home in New York City.
And with regard to Mr. Chaney, his body was identified based on latent fingerprints from his Selective Service questionnaire in the office of the Selective Service office in Meridian.
Your honor, the parties hereby stipulate that the bodies found buried in the dam and testified about are the bodies of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman. The parties further stipulate that Michael Schwerner died as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest, that James Chaney died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head, that Andrew Goodman died as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest.