Did Klansman Sign Rights Away to Black Cell Mate?

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(Originally published on 07.04.2012)

James Stern, a black man who spent over a year locked up with notorious KKK member, Edgar Ray Killen, alleges the elderly Klansman signed over the deed to his property and confessed to more civil rights murders. Killen is serving a 60-year manslaughter sentence at the Mississippi State Pen for the murders of three young civil rights workers in 1964. The assassination of these men,  sparked national attention and was later dramatized in the film, "Mississppi Burning."

Killen, is now 87 years old and suffering from a traumatic brain injury, according to his lawyer, Robert Ratliff.  Ratliff says Killen denies signing over the deed or giving his ex-cellie any book or film rights. But Stern says Killen trusted him and confided in him during the time they shared a cell together, and that the deed and rights he signed over to Stern are legit. Now, Stern is suing Killen, his wife and Ratliff for $6.5 million for essentially calling him a liar and hurting his reputation.

Stern, who was released on parole last November, has invited the FBI to search the 40-acre Mississippi estate where Killen reportedly admitted to dumping dozens of other victims. So far, there’s no word on whether or not the FBI intends to take Stern up on the offer, but they do have an obligation to investigate his claims. It is a known fact that many, many black people were brutally murdered and their bodies were never found during the civil rights movement. Their killers didn’t lose one day of freedom. Their families never saw justice, and many still wait for closure. If Killen did confess to other murders and where he disposed of the bodies, the FBI should take another look.

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