A leader of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s, who decades later was convicted of killing three civil rights workers, has died.
Edgar Ray Killen, 92, was serving three consecutive 20-year terms for manslaughter at the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
His conviction in 2005 came 41 years to the day that James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, all in their 20s, were ambushed and killed by Klansmen.
The three Freedom Summer workers had been investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi.
A deputy sheriff in Philadelphia had arrested them on a traffic charge, then released them after alerting a mob.
Mississippi’s then-governor claimed their disappearance was a hoax, and segregationist senator Jim Eastland told president Lyndon Johnson it was a “publicity stunt”, before their bodies were dug up.
The killings in 1964, which were dramatised in the film Mississippi Burning, shocked the nation and triggered the introduction of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Killen, a part-time preacher and lumber mill operator, was 80 when he was convicted of three counts of manslaughter in 2005.
Speaking after his death, Mr Goodman’s brother David said: “His life spanned a period in this country where members of the Ku Klux Klan like him were able to believe they had a right to take other people’s lives, and that’s a form of terrorism. Many took black lives with impunity.”
Mr Schwerner, a white New Yorker, moved to Mississippi in early 1964 to work on black voter registration and other projects.
Mr Chaney was a black Mississippian who befriended him. Mr Goodman, another white New Yorker, underwent civil-rights training in Ohio and arrived in Mississippi a day before Mr Schwerner and Mr Chaney were killed.
Police searching for their bodies found bodies of other black men who had been killed in Mississippi, including two who were beaten up before being dumped in the Mississippi River.