FBI agent who probed civil rights cases dies

Roy Moore's work ethic, professionalism remembered

Clarion Ledger, Mississippi/October 14, 2008

The man who once oversaw the FBI's investigation into the Ku Klux Klan's 1964 killings of three civil rights workers and other brutal killings of that era has died at the age of 94.

"Roy Moore set his own high work standards for himself and demanded the same work ethic of those around him," said retired FBI agent Jim Ingram, who headed the civil rights desk in those days.

Moore's daughter, Sandra Giglio, said he died Sunday in a Madison nursing home of complications from pneumonia and other ailments. Services are 2 p.m. Friday at Wright & Ferguson Chapel in Ridgeland.

Moore, a former Marine and native of Oregon, "loved the Marines and loved the FBI," Ingram said.

After the June 21, 1964, disappearances of three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, Moore opened the FBI office in Mississippi.

Hundreds of agents came in from across the United States to help the agency solve the case, leading to the Aug. 4, 1964, discovery of the bodies of the three workers. They had been buried 15 feet beneath an earthen dam.

In 1967, 18 men went on trial in U.S. District Court in Meridian. Seven were convicted on federal conspiracy charges, but none was tried by Mississippi for murder until 2005, when a Neshoba County jury convicted Edgar Ray Killen of Union County.

Ingram, who helped state authorities piece that case together, said Moore has failed to get the credit he is due for helping "turn things around in Mississippi in the law enforcement area. He demanded that we work with local law enforcement agencies."

Moore helped promote professionalism by encouraging the head of the state Highway Safety Patrol to send officers to attend the FBI Academy for training, Ingram said.

Ingram said he's spent much of his day letting people know about Moore's death, calling "agents all over the country. Each one of them had a Roy Moore story."

Veteran Mississippi journalist Bill Minor said the state "owes a lot to Roy Moore."

President Lyndon Johnson ordered FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to establish an FBI office in Mississippi, which had none.

"How close Mississippi stood in the 1960s to being taken over by the law of the jungle is still a frightening thought to many Mississippians," Minor said. "There was only one reliable law enforcement agency in Mississippi at the time, and that was the FBI, headed by Roy Moore."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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