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$100,000 reward offered in 1964 civil rights murders

JACKSON, Miss. -- An anonymous donor has posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to murder charges in one of the most notorious crimes of the civil rights era -- the ''Freedom Summer" slayings of three civil rights workers in 1964.

The reward will be administered by an interfaith organization as the state renews efforts to bring charges in the killings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman.

''There are people who have been harboring some of this information for a long time. There was a lot of common knowledge about this," said the Rev. James White, treasurer of the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, which is overseeing the reward money.

In 1964, the three volunteers helping to register black voters were murdered on a lonely dirt road as they drove to a church to investigate a fire.

They were allegedly stopped by Klansmen, beaten, and shot to death.

Several weeks later, their bodies were found buried in a dam a few miles from the church.

Nineteen men, many of them Klansmen, were indicted. Seven were convicted of federal civil rights violations and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 10 years.

But the state never brought murder charges, and none of the men convicted served more than six years.

Of those indicted, only seven are still alive, said Jacob Ray, a spokesman for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who has reopened an investigation of the slayings.

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