Forty three years after James Ford Seale tied blocks to two teenagers feet before throwing them in a river, Seale was finally brought to justice. The 1964 killing of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee was during the horrific era of the segregationist South. After rotting behind bars for four years and getting to watch our Nations first Black president, Barack Obama, be elected, the KKK man is now rotting in the ground. Surviving as a free man man through the civil rights era and promoting discrimination throughout that time, Seale can never again do harm to a man because of skin color.
James Ford Seale was a Ku Klux Klan member charged by the U.S. Justice Department on January 24, 2007, and subsequently convicted on June 14, 2007, with the kidnapping of two African-American teenagers in Meadville, Mississippi, in 1964. He was sentenced on August 24, 2007 to three life terms.
Klansmen abducted the two African American men, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, both 19, as they were hitchhiking outside of Roxie, Mississippi. On May 2, 1964, according to F.B.I. records, Seale suspected Dee of civil-rights activity and told the young men he was a revenue agent, investigating moonshine stills, and then drove them into the Homochitto National Forest between Meadville and Natchez. Other KKK members followed, and as Seale held a sawed-off shotgun, the other men tied the young men to a tree and severely beat them with long, skinny sticks.
According to the January 2007 indictment, the KKK then took the pair, who were reportedly still alive, to a nearby farm where Seale reportedly duct-taped their mouths and hands. Then the Klansmen wrapped the bloody pair in a plastic tarp and put them into the trunk of another Klansman’s red Ford (the deceased Ernest Parker, according to FBI records) and drove almost 100 miles to the Ole River near Tallulah, Louisiana. They had to drive through Louisiana to get there, but the backwater was actually located in Warren County, Mississippi, meaning that they were killed in Mississippi.
There the pair were tied to an old Jeep engine block and sections of railroad track rails with chains before being dumped in the river, reportedly while they were still alive. According to a Klan informant, Seale would say later that he would have shot them first, but didn’t want to get blood all over the boat.
The bodies of the pair were found two months later by a fisherman. The FBI launched an investigation, and presented their findings to local District Attorney Lenox Forman. FBI agents and Mississippi Highway Patrol officers arrested Seale and fellow Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards on Nov. 6, 1964, shortly after the discovery of the bodies, based on informant tips. They were released on Nov. 11, after family members posted $5,000 bond each. On Jan. 11, 1965, District Attorney Lenox Forman filed a “motion to dismiss affidavits” with Justice of the Peace Willie Bedford, who signed the motion the same day. The motions state: “… that in the interest of justice and in order to fully develop the facts in this case, the affidavits against James Seale and Charles Edwards should be dismissed by this Court without prejudice to the Defendants or to the State of Mississippi at this time in order that the investigation may be continued and completed for presentation to a Grand Jury at some later date.”
On January 14, 1966, Seale appeared in Washington before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was investigating Klan conspiracies at that point. Seale was there with nine other alleged Klansmen from the violent White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, including his father, Clyde Seale, and Charles Marcus Edwards, his alleged accomplice in the Dee-Moore murders. All the Klansmen repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment, even as chief investigator Donald T. Appell and House members used the opportunity to place into the record what they believed the men had done, including kidnapping and murdering Dee and Moore in 1964. In addition, according to the hearing transcript, Appell introduced testimony of a Meadville man named Alton Alford that Seale beat him with his shotgun, and asked Seale if he was involved in the 1965 death of a Klansman named Earl Hodges who had fallen out with Seale’s father. Appell also accused the men of accusing Mississippi highway patrolmen of “false arrest” to help them escape criminal charges.
The earliest media interest in the case seemed to come from two authors. In his 1970 book, “Attack on Terror: The FBI Against the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi,” writer Don Whitehead described some of the FBI’s 1960s-era findings on the Dee-Moore murders. Then in his 1996 book, “Betrayed: The Presidential Failure to Protect Black Lives,” writer Earl Ofari Hutchinson detailed the Moore and Dee case, named Seale and another suspect, and called on federal officials to indict the men on kidnapping charges. Hutchinson pointed out that because the crime occurred in a national forest, the federal government has jurisdiction.
The case was reopened in 2005 after Thomas Moore, a retired 30-year Army veteran and the brother of Charles Moore (one of the 1964 victims), returned to Mississippi with filmmaker David Ridgen of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on July 7, 2005, to begin shooting the film Mississippi Cold Case. Together they began a search for justice in the case. During their first interview with District Attorney Ronnie Harper, on July 8, he told them that James Seale was still alive, as had been reported to gullible press by Seale’s family members. They later confirmed this through a resident of Roxie Mississippi named Kenny Byrd who pointed them towards Seale’s trailer. The same morning, Moore and Ridgen would meet up with Donna Ladd and photographer Kate Medley from the Jackson Free Press, an alternative newsweekly in Jackson, Mississippi, whom they were already working with on the story and told them that Harper said Seale was still alive. Former Klansman James Kenneth Greer would tell Ladd and Medley on the trip that Seale was still alive and living in Roxie next to his brother. The discovery helped to re-energize interest in the case after Moore and Ridgen visited U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton on the same trip, and Lampton pledged to re-open the case. The Jackson Free Press published its first of many stories about the investigation and the discovery of James Ford Seale alive two weeks after the trip.
Moore and Ridgen returned to Mississippi every few months to continue filming, making nine trips together for Mississippi Cold Case, every time visiting Dunn Lampton’s office where Moore would present more information. The Jackson Free Press continued its investigation as well, publishing a package of follow-up stories to keep local interest in the case high, including a verbatim response by Thomas Moore to an editorial that appeared in the Franklin Advocate, the weekly newspaper in Meadville, in which the editor said the case should not be re-opened. (Editor Mary Lou Webb did not publish Moore’s response.)
The indictment affidavit filed January 24, 2007, in U.S. District Court in Jackson, charged Seale with two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy. The “introductory allegations” begin: “The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKKK) operated in the Southern District of Mississippi and elsewhere, and was a secret organization of adult white males who, among other things, targeted for violence African Americans they believed were involved in civil rights activity in order to intimidate and retaliate against such individuals.” The document says that Seale and other Klan members suspected Dee of being involved with civil rights activity. Moore was included because he was a friend of Dee.
Seale was arraigned and denied bond because he was considered a flight risk: He owned no property, was a pilot, and lived in a motor home, which he and his wife used to leave Roxie, for a brief time, after the reporting team’s initial July 2005 visits, according to Roxie residents. Primary testimony was from fellow Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards who, after being confronted by Thomas Moore and David Ridgen during filming of a scene in Mississippi Cold Case, was given state and federal immunity from prosecution to tell the full story of what happened. Seale was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy on June 14, 2007 by a federal jury. On August 24, 2007, James Ford Seale was sentenced to serve three life terms for his crimes. The Judge Wingate said that he took into account Seale’s advanced age and poor health, but added, “Then I had to take a look at the crime itself, the horror, the ghastliness of it.” Seale was imprisoned for a year at a medical facility. The conviction was overturned by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals on September 9, 2008. The court ruled that the lower court had failed to recognize the statute of limitations for kidnapping had long since expired. Prosecutors asked the appeals court to reconsider the ruling, and the court agreed to do so en banc.
On June 5, 2009 the en banc panel of 5th Circuit judges ruled in an evenly divided decision on the matter, thus upholding the district court’s decision. This means that James Seale’s three convictions and sentences are re-instated. On motion of defense counsel, the 5th Circuit asked the Supreme Court to review the case. On November, 2 2009 the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
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Twitter / Breaking News Alerts: AP: James Ford Seale, a for[dead link]
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