Mississippi Burning case: Former Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen dies in prison

Sean Morrison
Edgar Ray Killen: The former KKK leader died in prison: AP

A former Ku Klux Klan leader who was convicted over infamous deaths of three civil rights workers in Mississippi has died in jail aged 92.

Edgar Ray Killen was serving three consecutive 20-year sentences for manslaughter before he died in Mississippi State Penitentiary.

The state’s corrections department said in statement no foul play was suspected. An autopsy was pending, it said.

Killen was jailed in 2005, four decades after the 1964 murders.

The men's disappearance and deaths shocked the country and helped catalyse the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

The triple killing was also the basis for the 1988 Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, all in their 20s, were members of the Congress of Racial Equality (Core).

They had been working on the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign to register black voters in the southern state.

The men were detained by police before they were ambushed and shot by Klansmen who were tipped off about their release.

Mississippi’s then-governor claimed their disappearance was a hoax before their bodies were dug up.