Oct. 1, 1964

The Neshoba County grand jury, in a scorching report on the refusal of federal agencies to cooperate in its attempt to solve the murder of the three ‘civil rights’ workers here this summer, reported to the court Wednesday afternoon.

“We are at a loss to understand this attitude on the part of the Department of Justice inasmuch as our investigation of this matter reveals that a number of people in Neshoba County have been unofficially accused by F.B.I. Agents as having taken part in the homicides of the three civil rights workers”, said the report to the district court.

FBI agents and Justice Department agents were subpoenaed by the county grand jury in an attempt to help solve the murders, but on orders from Washington none of them appeared to give testimony. The complete report of the grand jury, along with the telegrams to and from FBI and Justice Department headquarters in Washington, follows:

“We have examined the dockets of the Justices of the Peace of District No. 3, District No. 4, and District No. 5, and find that all fines collected by said Justices have been properly accounted for and turned into the County Depository in the amount $3,794.00. We have been unable to examine the docket of the Justice of the Peace, District No. 1, inasmuch as his docket is held by court order in the United States District Court in Biloxi, Mississippi; We have been unable to examine the docket of the Justice of the Peace of District No. 2, inasmuch as the Justice is in the hospital due to an automobile accident.

“We have made a personal visit to some of the Neshoba County Schools and find the same to be in excellent condition insofar as fire hazards are concerned, and find that all safety precautions are being observed by school officials. We have examined the Neshoba County Jail and find the same to be kept in a sanitary condition and find that all prisoners are being properly fed and cared for. We have inspected the Neshoba County Courthouse and find the same to be in good condition, but we recommend to the Board of Supervisors that some interior painting be done in some sections of the Courthouse. We also call to the Board’s attention that the window air conditioner in the Grand Jury room is in need of repair or replacement. We have made an effort to investigate all matters brought to our special attention by your Honor.

“With particular reference to your charge to investigate the homicide of three civil rights workers whose bodies were found in Neshoba County, Mississippi, on August 4, 1964, we would like to say that our investigation has been curtailed, and in fact stymied by the failure and refusal of agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other Federal officers to testify in regard to the matter. We respectfully state that subpoenas were duly issued for all Federal Agents known to have participated in the investigation of these homicides, but that not one of said agents showed up before his Grand Jury to testify and no written reports or documentary evidence as to these homicides have been presented to this Grand Jury by the United States Department of Justice.

“On Monday, September 28, 1964, Mr. Howard Schapiro, an Attorney from the Department of Justice, Washington, D. C., appeared before this Grand Jury and stated that all Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and all agents and employees of the Justice Department, were under specific orders of the Acting Attorney General of the United States not to testify before this Grand Jury in reference to this matter at this time. Mr. Schapiro filed with this Grand Jury an exchange of telegrams between the Honorable O. H. Barnett, Circuit Judge, and Nicholas B. Katzenbach, Acting Attorney General of the United States, and John Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also filed with us the affidavit of Attorney General Katzenbach, and a written statement setting forth that all Federal Agents were under orders not to testify. Only two reasons have been given to this Grand Jury as to why the Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation cannot testify before it at this time, such reasons being, (1) that a Federal Grand Jury is now convened and in session in Biloxi, Mississippi, taking up matters connected with these homicides, and (2) that the investigation of these matters has not yet been completed by the Department of Justice.

“We are at a loss to understand this attitude on the part of the Department of Justice inasmuch as our investigation of this matter reveals that a number of people in Neshoba County have been unofficially accused by F.B.I. Agents as having taken part in the homicides of the three civil rights workers. It is common knowledge in and around Neshoba County that the Federal Agents have made numerous statements to the effect that they have the case “wrapped up” and that they know exactly who committed the murders. If this be true, why do they hesitate to come before this Grand Jury, being the only Grand Jury with jurisdiction to bring “Murder” indictments. Notwithstanding the failure of the Agents of the Federal Government to testify before us in this cause, we have made an intensive effort to investigate every shred of known evidence connected with these homicides. We have called before us all local and state officers who participated in the investigation of this matter, and have also had numerous other witnesses to testify before us.

“We have nothing but the highest praise for the investigative work done by members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Identification Bureau, and also by the local law enforcement officers of Neshoba County. Every effort has been made by state and local officers to cooperate with the Federal Investigators, but in turn very little cooperation has been received from them. The only logical conclusion we can reach in this matter is that the investigation of these homicides is still open and in continuing at this date. We find that state and local officers participating in the investigation of these homicides have worked under an extreme handicap since the Federal officers have dominated every phase of the investigation.

“Immediately following the disappearance of the three civil rights workers the Federal Agents moved in and completely took over the investigation although they were assured by state and local officers from the outset that the state would give every cooperation in an effort to solve the case. We find that, prior to discovery of the bodies, the Governor of this State, Honorable Paul B. Johnson, offered to call out the Mississippi National Guard to assist in the search. This offer was turned down by Federal authorities. Nevertheless the State has had investigators at work on the case from the beginning and they are still at work thereon as of the date of this report. In order that the record might be clear as to why we cannot complete our investigation of these homicides at this time, after having been instructed by the Court so to do, we attach hereto, and make a part of this Grand Jury Report, all written and documentary matters filed with the Grand Jury by Mr. Schapiro on behalf of the Department of Justice of the United States. The written statements, affidavits, and other documentary matters filed with us are in words and figures as follows, to-wit:

“If it please your Honor, this Grand Jury would like to go on record as stating that the vast majority of the people of Neshoba County are peaceful, law abiding citizens. The people of this County do not condone violence in any manner, shape or form. Neshoba County has a long and honorable history and we feel that it is a safe place to rear our children and grandchildren. The schools, churches, hospitals, civic clubs, and other institutions in this county, are as fine as any in the Nation. Contrary to what some would have you believe, law enforcement has not broken down in Neshoba County. Local law enforcement officials have done an exceptional job of maintaining law and order in this county, even in the face of drastic provocation by outside agitators. These agitators are not interested in the welfare of the colored race in Neshoba County, but are interested only in their own selfish purposes. They do not pay the taxes, provide the schools, furnish the employment, or look after the welfare of the colored race, but, on the other hand, they seek to divide the races, stir up friction, breed hatred, and engender suspicion among peaceful citizens who have lived together in peace and harmony for generations. There is more crime and violence committed on the streets of New York City in one night than there has been in all of Neshoba County for the past one hundred years. Official statistics show that there are more than 800 missing persons in New York City alone. Yet we do not condemn the entire citizenry of New York. We believe that the people there are best fitted and equipped to run their own internal affairs and should be allowed to do so. We would like to commend our Honor for your most excellent and statesman-like charge to the Grand Jury on the opening day of this term of Court. Now having finished our deliberations we respectfully request that this Grand Jury be finally discharged.”

This completed the report. The telegram sent to Nicholas Katzenbach, U.S. Attorney General, by Judge O.H. Barnett is as follows:

Sept. 24, 1964 Hon. Nicholas Kazenbach Attorney General United States Justice Dept. Washington D. C. The regular term of Court, Neshoba County, Mississippi, is in session. A grand jury has been convened, empanelled and charged to investigate all criminal violation of the law in said county, including the death of three civil rights workers whose bodies were found in this county. Subpoenas have been issued for all persons in your department known to local authorities that have taken part in an investigation of this matter. This is to respectfully request that you in your official capacity instruct those official capacity instruct those persons that have been subpoenaed to appear and also instruct any other of your personnel that have not had legal process issued for them to appear in person at the county courthouse in Philadelphia, Mississippi, at nine o’clock a. m. Monday, September 28, prepared to testify before the grand jury on this matter. (Signed) O.H. Barnett, Circuit Judge eight Judicial District, State of Mississippi; Attest: T.A. Sansing, Clerk of Circuit Court, Neshoba County, Mississippi.

The telegram to J. Edgar Hoover from Judge Barnett is as follows:

Hon. J. Edgar Hoover

Director FBI

Justice Dept., Washington

You are respectfully requested to instruct all of your agents that have information regarding the death of three civil rights workers whose bodies were found in Neshoba County, Mississippi, in August to appear in person at the county courthouse in Philadelphia, Mississippi, at nine o’clock a.m. Monday, September 28, 1964, prepared to testify before a grand jury about the matter. (Signed) O.H. Barnett, Judge Eight Judicial District.

Judge Barnett got the following reply from Attorney General Katzenbach:

Hon. O. H. Barnett

Circuit Judge

Philadelphia, Mississippi

FBI agents in Mississippi will be unable to testify before the Neshoba County grand jury which meets on Monday, September 28, regarding the death of three civil rights workers whose bodies were found in Neshoba County in August. I have instructed those agents, through Special Agent in Charge Moore, not to disclose before that grand jury any information relating to material or information contained in the files of the Department of Justice or any information obtained in connection with any official Department of Justice investigation. The reasons for this instruction are, first, that such testimony by these agents would interfere with the conduct of any federal grand jury proceeding now pending in Biloxi, Mississippi, and, second, that since the FBI investigation of matters being inquired into by that grand jury is still continuing, disclosure of information at this time to persons other than the federal grand jury would be inimical to the public interest and would impede the operations for Department of Justice. For these reasons, the information referred to above cannot be made available to the Neshoba County grand jury at this time. (Signed) Nicholas de. B. Katzenbach, Acting Attorney General.

In answer to Judge Barnett’s telegram FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, sent this reply:

Honorable O.H. Barnett

Judge, Eight Judicial District

Philadelphia, Mississippi

FBI agents referred to in your telegram will be unable to testify before state grand jury at this time regarding death of three civil rights workers, as they have been instructed by the acting attorney general not to disclose before that grand

jury any information relating to material or information contained in the files of the Department of Justice, or any information obtained in connection with any official Department of Justice investigation. In the circumstances, I assume the agents will be recused from appearing before grand jury on Monday. Respectfully yours, (Signed) John Edgar Hoover, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

AFFIDAVIT OF NICHOLAS deB. KATZENBACH

CITY OF WASHINGTON SS

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, being first duly sworn, deposes and says: 1. I am the Acting Attorney General of the United States and head of the United States Department of Justice. 2. I have been informed that subpoenas issued by the Circuit Court of Neshoba County have been served upon the following named persons, each of whom is an Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a Bureau of the United States Department of Justice: Inspector Joseph A. Sullivan, Special Agent Nelson L. Phillips, Special Agent John H. Proctor, Special Agent John C. Gordon, Special Agent Arthur L. Murtagh, Special Agent Edward J. Brennan, Special Agent Lawrence M. Shearer, Jr., Special Agent in Charge Roy K. Moore, and Special Agent Samuel N. Jennings. 3. At the present time the Federal Grand Jury for the Southern District of Mississippi, convened by order of the United States District court for the Southern District of Mississippi on September 21, 1963, at Biloxi, Mississippi, is inquiring into possible violations of federal law in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The FBI has begun and is continuing an investigation relating to the matters being inquired into by the Federal Grand Jury. 4. After careful consideration I have determined that disclosure at the present time of any information collected by the FBI in the course of its still open investigation, except in camera to the Federal Grand Jury, would be inimical to the public interest in that it would impede the investigation by the Federal Grand Jury and interfere with the operations of the Department of Justice. 5. I have therefore instructed each of the FBI agents named herein not to disclose, upon return of the subpoenas issued to them, any information relating to material or information obtained in connection with any official Department of Justice investigation.

NICHOLAS deB. KATZENBACH

Subscribed and Sworn to

Before Me This 26th Day

of September, 1964

Wm. C. Jackson Notary Public

In response to subpoenas issued for nine federal agents to appear before the local grand jury, Department of Justice Attorney Howard E. Schapiro delivered a statement to the Neshoba County court in behalf of the Department of Justice, which read as follows: “When the federal proceedings are completed and at such time as does not conflict with our federal obligation, we will fully cooperate with state and local authorities in making available such evidence and testimony as we possess pertaining to violations of local laws. (Signed) Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Acting Attorney General, United States Department of Justice. By: Howard E. Schapiro, Attorney, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.”