The Murder of Henry Dee and Charles Moore

During the years of 1963-1965, the Ku Klux Klan engaged in a campaign of  racial violence and terror in Franklin County, Mississippi, where the racist organization was particularly prevalent.  The purpose of the campaign was to deter African-Americans from civic participation, to deny them equal rights and access to public services and to the courts, and to repress resistance to racial domination. The campaign was not limited to violent attacks and threats to African-Americans, however, but also included attacks on whites that disobeyed Klan edicts.  On May 2, 1964, Charles Moore and Henry Dee, two African-American 19-year-old teenagers were kidnapped, beaten and murder by several members of the Klan.

Sometime in the spring of 1964, the Franklin County chapter of the Klan met to discuss what to do about black militants who, according to the Klan, were bringing firearms into Franklin County. Charles Edwards, a Klansman present at the meeting, urged the group to target Henry Dee because he fit the profile of a black militant. Edwards, who lived near Dee, selected Dee because he wore a bandanna on his head and he had recently returned to Mississippi from visiting relatives in Chicago.

On May 2, 1964, Charles Moore, a student at Alcorn College, and Henry Dee, who was employed at a local a pulpwood mill, were together in downtown Meadville, the seat of Franklin County. Later that morning, the two young men decided to hitchhike to another destination on Mississippi State Highway 84.  Dee and Moore were picked up on the highway by Klansman James Ford Seale, who took his victims to the Homochitto National Forest where he was joined by fellow KKK members Charles Edwards, Archie Prather, Curtis Dunn and Clyde Seale, his father and the Exalted Cyclops of the Franklin County Klan.  The Klansmen threatened Dee and Moore with a shotgun and whipped them with bean poles and tree limbs for about 30 minutes, demanding to know where “the guns” were in the black community of Franklin County. Under the pressure of this torture, Dee and Moore falsely claimed they knew where the guns were being hidden and provided the Klan with the name of Rev. Clyde Briggs and identified one of the churches he pastored, Roxie First Baptist Church, as the hiding place.

Briggs, a respected pastor, was known as a supporter of black civil rights.  After Briggs’ name was mentioned by Dee and Moore, Charles Edwards, Clyde Seale and Archie Prather left the Homochitto Forest and proceeded directly to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in Meadville to seek the assistance of Sheriff Wayne Hutto in searching the Roxie church.  According to Charles Edwards, a search warrant was issued for the Roxie Baptist Church after this meeting.  Sheriff Hutto, his deputy, and a highway patrolman accompanied the Klansmen to search the Roxie church. The church was locked when the group of Klansmen and law enforcement officials arrived. The deputy and highway patrolman were sent to locate Rev. Briggs and bring him back to the Roxie church so that it could be searched. Rev. Briggs opened the church. Finding no weapons, the officers and Klansman left the church. The Sheriff’s deputy told Rev. Briggs to secure the church because it might be a target for arson later that night.

In the meantime, James Seale and Curtis Dunn transported Moore and Dee to another location and after a few hours put their victims into the trunk of James Seale’s car.  Dee and Moore were driven for two hours – across the Mississippi River to Parkers Landing, on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River, where they were removed from the trunk of the car. The Klansmen tied Henry Dee to a jeep engine block, took him by boat into the river, and, while Moore watched from shore, tossed him overboard to drown. They then tied Charles Moore to a railroad tie and iron weights. They took him by boat into the river and threw him overboard as well.  Both men were still alive when they were thrown into the Mississippi River.