Bodies of missing trio found buried in levee/August 6, 1964
Wednesday, June 9, 2004 1:00 PM
The bodies of three missing civil rights workers who disappeared here on June 21 were uncovered in a dam of a pond by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 4. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white, of New York and James Chaney, Negro, of Meridian, were last seen leaving Philadelphia on June 21 after paying a fine for speeding.
The bodies were found buried about 17 feet under the levee of the pond. It was learned that the dragline was moved into the area sometime Tuesday, thereby leaving the impression that the agents were fairly sure of what they would find.
The bodies of Schwerner and Goodman were positively identified by the FBI, and Chaney is expected to be shortly, it was learned. The FBI Office in Jackson said the intensive search by agents, the Highway Patrol and Sailors from the Naval Air Station in Meridian helped lead to the discovery. The fact that the dam was built only recently caused the agents to concentrate their search at the spot.
As soon as the announcement was made that the bodies had been found, a blockade of FBI agents and Highway Patrol was thrown up around the entire area.
Coroner Fulton Jackson impaneled a jury Wednesday morning and visited the scene, but the bodies by that time had been removed to University Hospital in Jackson for examination. The coroner’s jury was composed of Jack Thrash, H. C. Breazeale, E. C. Parker, Jack Weatherford, Joe Coghlan, and S. B. Simmons.
Coroner Jackson said he would not release any information or make any announcement as to the cause of the trio’s death until the report from Jackson was furnished his office.
It is believed that the trio was shot, either with a rifle or pistol, and it was learned that bullets were found in each of the three bodies. This information was learned by a very reliable source, who’s identity cannot be revealed at this time. The bodies were not mutilated in any way, the source said.
The FBI would not say whether any arrests would be made at this time and would not name any suspects.
The first word of the finding of the bodies was heard over television about 6:45 Tuesday evening, when the regular program at that hour was interrupted.
The farm on which the bodies were found is known as the old John Townsend place, but owned now by Mr. Burrage.
The FBI said an announcement would be made as soon as possible on the exact causes of death, which would come some time after the completion of the autopsy in Jackson.