Killen admitted killing civil rights workers, former cellmate says

Clarion Ledger, Mississippi/February 10, 2014

By Jerry Mitchell

Former Parchman inmate James Stern said Monday that Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen admitted to killing the three civil rights workers in 1964.

Killen, who has proclaimed his innocence, is now serving 60 years behind bars for manslaughter in connection with the June 21, 1964, slayings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

A jury convicted Killen in 2005 on the 41st anniversary of the killings.

In a news conference Monday, Stern, a native of California who spent more than four years in prison in Mississippi for wire fraud, said for six months behind bars he befriended Killen, who admitted to him his involvement in these slayings and others.

Stern said he had to endure racial epithets from Killen in order to get this information.

The former inmate has produced handwritten documents that experts have determined match Killen’s handwriting.

He never wanted to be in prison in Mississippi, but “God works in mysterious ways, and now I’m able to show what Mississippi is today,” he said.

He plans to write a book that “will not be reflecting the negative of the past, but more about what’s happening today,” said the 49-year-old Stern.

What Mississippi was like in 1960, when he was born in California, and what it’s like today is “day and night,” he said.

There are also plans to make a movie, he said.

He believes it’s possible for white supremacists to reject their racist ways and change, he said. “I’ve met and talked with many members of the Klan.”

On Feb. 25, he plans to sit down for a National Conversation on Race with a white supremacist leader involved with the National Socialist Movement in Los Angeles.

Asked whether Killen should be released, Stern described Killen as “a very evil man. ... There is no way anyone who has done what he has done should ever be free.”

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