Klansman indicted 43 years after slayings

Transcripts were recently released from a press conference from the Department of Justice discussing the indictment of James F. Seale. Seale is being held for the 1964 kidnapping and murder of Charles Moore and Henry Dee. Both were 19 years old at the time.

The following excerpt from the Associated Press recounts the grim events that took place on May 2, 1964:

On that morning in early May, Dee and Moore, both 19, were walking past an ice cream stand on the highway when a Volkswagen pulled alongside them.

At the wheel was James Ford Seale, a 29-year-old truck driver and cropduster whose grandfather had been county sheriff. According to an affidavit from an FBI informant, this is what happened next:

Seale said he was a “Revenue agent hunting for bootleg whiskey stills,” and asked the two if they had any information. Seale asked if they wanted a ride, and they got into the car.

Seale pulled out a walkie-talkie and told the occupants of a trailing pickup truck _ including his cousin, 31-year-old paper mill worker and fellow Army veteran Charles Marcus Edwards _ that he was bringing “two Negro boys” to talk with them.

In fact, the Ku Klux Klan had heard rumors that black Muslims were running guns in the area in preparation for an “insurrection.” Ostensibly because he had been seen “peeping” at Edwards’ young wife, Dee was targeted to receive a “whipping.”

Charles Moore, it appears, was a victim of circumstance.

The Klansmen bound the two friends and began whipping them with beanpoles. Seale asked them over and over who was behind all the “Negro trouble” in Franklin County.

The Klansmen loaded the unconscious pair into a car trunk, careful to line it with a tarp to catch the blood. Reaching the Mississippi River, they were surprised to find the two captives still breathing.

The white men dragged the pair into a boat and headed out into the relatively still waters of an oxbow lake formed by the river’s shifting course. They decided not to shoot their captives; no one wanted the boat to be splattered with blood.

Instead, Moore was lashed to a Jeep engine block, Dee to some old railroad tracks and wheels, the informant said. One of the Klansmen asked Dee if he knew what would happen next, and Dee nodded.

The two friends went over the side, and the swirling, muddy water swallowed them alive.

Seale and Edwards (Seale’s accomplice) were initially arrested in 1964 but were not prosecuted due to lack of evidence (Read: The KKK scared potential witnesses.) Edwards confessed to attacking the two young men but stressed that he left both breathing.

Seale has pleaded not guilty (ironically in front of an African American female judge) and reports note that Edwards may be a witness in the upcoming case. If convicted he faces a life sentence. Both Seale and Edwards are about 72 years old.

I present this for our knowledge. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. I’m elated that the family of both Moore and Dee will finally see some form of justice but I cringe at the thought that it took almost 43 years.

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Published on January 26, 2007 at 12:08 pm. 6 Comments.
Filed under history,racism.