Harper asks feds to investigate Dee, Moore murders

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Adams County District Attorney Ronnie Harper wants the investigation into the Civil Rights-era murders of Henry Dee and Charles Moore to be taken to a new level. In a letter last month to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Jackson, Harper asked the office to look into the case because the murders may have taken place in federal jurisdiction.

&uot;The way I&160;look at it, the more law enforcement agencies that become involved in the investigation, the better chance there is developing any evidence,&uot; Harper said.

Jack Lacy of the U.S. Attorney’s office could not comment on the case but confirmed it has been referred to his office.

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At Harper’s request, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the Attorney’s General Office began looking into the case last summer.

Harper decided to extend his request to the federal office after observing recent developments in the Civil Rights-era murder case of Adams County resident Ben Chester White.

Officials believe White’s murder took place on federal land in the Homochitto National Forest.

For this reason, federal officials have the authority to investigate and prosecute the case.

Dee and Moore, who were both about 20 years old at the time of their deaths, may also have been murdered on federal land.

The two were last seen alive on May 2 1964, near their hometown of Meadville.

Charles M. Edwards and James Ford Seale were charged with the murders but never brought to trial. According to reports at the time, Edwards told the FBI that Dee and Moore were hitchhiking near Meadville when they were picked up and beaten but that they were left alive in the woods.

&uot;By all accounts, it appears that this crime would have occurred, or, at least, begun in the Homochitto National Forest,&uot;&160;Harper wrote in his letter to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Two months after their disappearance, officials found parts of the bodies of Dee and Moore in the Old River, 17 miles south of Tallulah, La. Charges were eventually dropped against Edwards and Seale, and the case was never solved.

Harper said his requests for other agencies to look at the case does not technically mean it has been reopened. &uot;Unsolved murder cases are never closed,&uot; he said. &uot;If anything can be developed, I feel confident (the agencies) will be able to do that.&uot;&160;

Since there was no trial, the challenge to investigators will be finding the needed evidence to prosecute. &uot;In this case you’re strictly operating on what evidence you are able to develop,&uot; Harper said. The longer the investigation is delayed, there is less chance of a successful prosecution, he said.