May 2, 1964
Klansmen kidnap Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, two African American teenagers in Meadville, Miss., beat them at gunpoint in a Mississippi national forest, and forcibly throw them into a backwater of the Mississippi River to die.
July 12, 1964
A fisherman finds body parts in the Ole River and alerts authorities. The FBI believes they may be the bodies of three men killed June 21 by Klansmen in Neshoba County. But personal effects found in the pockets of the pants on the torsos—the second one was found July 13—indicate that the bodies were those of Dee and Moore.
Oct. 30-31, 1964
Navy divers dredge up "a human skull, bones, two shirts, a Jeep engine block with a chain attached and two pieces of railroad rail and two small steel wheels tied together with a chain," according to an FBI memo.
Nov. 6, 1964
Mississippi highway patrolmen and FBI agents arrest reputed Klansmen James Ford Seale and Charles Marcus Edwards for the Dee-Moore murders. Franklin County Justice of the Peace Willie Bedford issued the arrest warrants. During the two-hour drive to Jackson, FBI special agent Lenard Wolf tells Seale, "We know you did it, you know you did it, the Lord above knows you did it." Seale replies: "Yes, but I'm not going to admit it; you are going to have to prove it."
Nov. 11, 1964
Franklin County Sheriff Wayne Hutto notifies the FBI that the men had been released on $5,000 bond each. Archie Prather (Edwards' father), Rosa Davis and Gene Seale (Seale's brother) paid the bond.
Jan. 5, 1965
District Attorney Lenox Forman calls a meeting with Sheriff Hutto, Assistant Attorney General Garland Lyle, and Mississippi Highway Patrol investigators Charles Snodgrass and Gwyn Cole. He says he does not have "sufficient evidence" to give the case to the grand jury. Forman says the defendants "had put out the story" that they were "brutally mistreated"; therefore, he was sure a grand jury would not indict.
Jan. 11, 1965
The district attorney files a "motion to dismiss affidavits" with Bedford, who signed the motion the same day.
Jan. 14, 1966
Seale, along with 10 other reputed Klanmen, including his father and brother, appears before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in Washington to be questioned about his alleged crimes, including the abduction and murders of Dee and Moore. He takes the 5th Amendment 41 times during questioning.
July 9, 2005
A joint investigative effort in Meadville by Thomas Moore (the brother of Charles Moore), Canadian Broadcasting Corp. producer David Ridgen, and Donna Ladd and Kate Medley of the Jackson Free Press reveals that James Ford Seale is still alive. The Clarion-Ledger and other media had reported that Seale was dead in 2001, presumably after his family told them so. The case had been considered closed.
July 13, 2005
Thomas Moore visits U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton in Jackson and tells him Seale was still alive and living in Roxie. Lampton agrees to jumpstart the investigation, which would last until January 2007.
July 20, 2005
The JFP publishes "I Want Justice, Too," a detailed narrative about Moore's visit to Mississippi that reveals Seale is still alive. The case, and the revelation about Seale, starts to attract international attention. The JFP subsequently publishes a series of stories, both about the Dee-Moore case and other civil-rights atrocities in the area, while CBC returns to Meadville a number of times with Moore to further investigate the case.
July 28, 2005
Mary Lou Webb, editor of the Franklin Advocate in Meadville and wife of the publicity director of Americans for the Preservation of the White Race in 1964 (according to a document in the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission files), publishes an editorial lambasting the re-opening of the case. She writes: "The editor sees no new evidence—no reason—to put a new generation through painful memories. … Halfway around the world our young people are dying because their young people were not allowed to forgive and forget. Let that not be the legacy we leave our children."
Webb refuses to print Thomas Moore's response, which he then asks the JFP to publish. He writes in part: "Mary Lou, I have the right to come to Franklin County, my home, and demand justice 41 years later for the brutal murders of my brother Charles Moore and my friend Henry Dee. I also have the right to ask the rest of Franklin County, blacks and whites alike, to join me in my quest for justice."
Jan. 24, 2007
A federal grand jury delivers three indictments against Seale: two counts of kidnapping and one of conspiracy leading to Moore and Dee's deaths.
Jan. 25, 2007
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, accompanied by U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton and FBI Director Bob Mueller, announces grand jury indictments in Washington, D.C. "We would much prefer, of course, that justice had been served 40 years ago in this case," Gonzales says. "But what we are doing today—bringing closure to this horrible crime by trying this case through a public trial—should serve as notice to those who would violate the civil rights of their fellow citizens: We will pursue you as long as it takes and as long as the law allows."
Jan. 29, 2007
Seale appears in shackles and an orange jumpsuit for his bond hearing in Jackson. U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson denies bond, citing the "violent" and "horrific" nature of the alleged crime and Seale's concealment of a brother in Louisiana.
Feb. 22, 2007
U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate denies two motions by Seale's defense: one to dismiss the trial based on an exceeded statute of limitations and another to revoke Anderson's order for detention.
March 22, 2007
Wingate denies defense's motion to recuse himself and Anderson from the trial. Federal Public Defender Dennis Joiner appears to imply that two black judges would be unjustly biased against Seale.
April 5, 2007
Wingate denies defense motion for a change of venue due to "non-stop media attention."
April 12, 2007
Wingate approves prosecution's motion for use of a jury questionnaire. Public Defender Kathy Nester argues against questions about race, saying, "To allow the government to set the tone and create racial hysteria before the jurors even step into the room, is to deny (Seale) a fair trial." Fitzgerald responds: "It was the defendant who inserted race into this case." Trial date is set for May 29.
April 18, 2007
Wingate hears final objections on questionnaire, finalizes version to mail April 19.
April 30, 2007
Wingate hears witness testimony in the final round of pretrial motions. Retired FBI Agent Edward Putz, who rode with Seale following his arrest on Nov. 6, 1964, and Jack Davis, former member of Americans for the Preservation of the White Race, testify regarding defense motion to suppress Seale's statements. Retired FBI agent Billy Bob Williams also takes the stand.
May 1, 2007
In the second day of witness testimony, retired FBI agents and informant Ernest Gilbert's widow take the stand to provide testimony about Gilbert, who died in 2003 and never testified about his knowledge of the Dee-Moore murders in court. Former Mississippi Highway Patrolman Donald Butler adds testimony about KKK presence in 1960s Franklin County.
May 2, 2007
Wingate denies the government motion to allow Ernest Gilbert's statements, noting that prosecutors failed to provide Gilbert with a judicial forum to testify during the three years between outing himself as an informant on ABC's "20/20" in 2000 and his death in 2003. Citing inconsistent testimony from Jack Davis and no evidence of coercion by FBI agents, Wingate rules that Seale's comments on Nov. 6, 1964 are admissible. The judge also denies two final motions from the defense to dismiss the trial, one for lack of a speedy trial and one for spoiled evidence. "Once (the government) found that they could prosecute, they did," Wingate says.
May 10, 2007
Deadline passes for potential jurors to return questionnaires.
May 29, 2007
The criminal trial of James Ford Seale is scheduled to begin in the James O. Eastland Federal Building in Jackson.
The JFP will blog daily about the trial of Seale at roadtomeadville.com.