Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood closed the book on one of the most explosive murder cases in American history Monday, saying all leads have been exhausted and there is "nothing else that can be done" in the 1964 "Mississippi Burning" killings. "The FBI, my office, and other law enforcement agencies have spent decades chasing leads, searching for evidence, and fighting for justice for the three young men who were senselessly murdered on June 21, 1964," Hood said, per the Clarion-Ledger. "We have determined that there is no likelihood of any additional convictions," he added, noting that the case will be closed, though it could be reopened if new information is presented to his office or the FBI. The Justice Department has released its own 48-page report on the case.
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, civil rights activists who had been working to register black voters in Mississippi, were murdered by Klansmen while they were investigating the burning of a black church. Edgar Ray Killen, the only person ever tried for their murders, was prosecuted in 2005 and is serving a 60-year sentence. Hood said there hasn't been enough new evidence to try other suspects, including James Harris, who allegedly recruited KKK members to kill the men. "For these participants, the good Lord will have to deal with that," Hood told reporters. Relatives say they hope attention turns to continuing discrimination in Mississippi, and to all the others hurt or killed in the 1960s struggle. "The civil rights period was not about just those three young men," Chaney's sister, the Rev. Julia Chaney Moss, tells the AP. "It was about all of the lives." (This Tennessee lawyer is still trying to solve the 1940 murder of an NAACP member.)