JACKSON, Miss. -- Florence Mars, whose book about the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers won praise from many but made her the target of the Ku Klux Klan, has died, a relative said last week. She was 83.
Ms. Mars had Bell's palsy and other ailments, and died April 23, said her godson, Mark Howell.
Ms. Mars was one of the few white residents of rural Philadelphia, Miss., to cooperate with FBI agents who investigated the disappearance of three civil rights workers during the Freedom Summer in 1964.
Her book, ''Witness in Philadelphia," was published in 1977 and chronicled the struggle to register black voters and the brutal slayings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman.
The men were detained on a traffic violation in 1964 after investigating the burning of a black church. The Klan ambushed them when they were released from the Neshoba County Jail a few hours later. They were beaten and shot and their bodies buried in an earthen dam.
The killings inspired the 1988 film ''Mississippi Burning" and were at the center of the highly publicized trial of a former Klan leader last year.
Gerald Howell, 84, said the Klan set fire to Ms. Mars's barn in the late 1960s after she publicly supported the civil rights movement. He and his wife, Millie, were among Ms. Mars's few lifelong friends in a town that often ostracized whites who supported the equal rights movement.
Edgar Ray Killen, a former Klansman and part-time preacher, was convicted of manslaughter last year for orchestrating the slayings.