Aug. 12, 2005

Arrest photo of Edgar Ray Killen, December 1964. Credit: Courtesy of the FBI

Edgar Ray Killen, sentenced to 60 years in prison for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, was freed on an appeal bond after a hearing in which he swore he was permanently confined to his wheelchair. Less than a month later, a deputy sheriff saw Killen walking around, filling up his truck with gas “with no problem.” After a hearing, Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon ordered Killen back to prison, saying he believed a fraud had been committed against the court.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.