Civil rights leaders have new leads in 1946 lynching.
ATLANTA – It’s among the more gruesome mass murders in Georgia history, one that raised the ire of a president and spawned multiple investigations by the FBI.
Now, nearly 68 years after two African-American couples were lynched on Moore’s Ford Bridge in Walton County, Ga., local civil rights leaders who continue to investigate say they have unearthed credible information that could finally solve the case.
The source is a 55-year-old white Monroe native who claims his late uncle and at least another dozen locals, all members of the Ku Klux Klan, participated in the July 25, 1946, killings of Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey.
“All through my life I’ve heard them talk about it,” Wayne Watkins said. A few years ago, Watkins got in touch with longtime Walton County civil rights activist Robert Howard.
The two men developed a relationship, and Howard said he trusts Watkins.
“He’s been talking a long time, but no one’s been listening,” Howard said of Watkins.
Special prosecutor sought
Ed DuBose, former president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, told the Walton Board of Commissioners Tuesday night he wants the commission to push for a special prosecutor based on the new information.
“I’m confident that we’re closer to justice than we’ve ever been before,” said DuBose.
The sharecroppers were abducted by an angry white mob after a farmer, Loy Harrison, had bailed Malcom out of the Walton County Jail. He had been accused of stabbing a white farmer days earlier.
The group was on their way home when they were grabbed, taken to a field near Moore’s Field Bridge, tied up and shot more than 60 times. Harrison was unharmed but claimed he could not identify the killers.
Watkins, interviewed on video last April in Monroe by then-NAACP President Ben Jealous, said he knows their names. Many of them, he said, are still alive.
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, was present during Watkins’ interview with Jealous and said the information he provided “coincided with what we’ve uncovered in our investigation,” even though there was one bombshell for everyone familiar with the case.
One of the slaughtered women, according to Watkins, was pregnant. Watkins’ uncle insisted the baby was not killed, however.
“They cut the baby out, washed it in the creek, and took it to Atlanta,” where it was put up for adoption, Watkins said on the video.
The case attracted national headlines when it occurred, prompting President Harry S Truman to demand the shooters be brought to justice. As many as two dozen suspects were thought to be involved, but no charges were filed.
The FBI reopened the case, along with more than 100 unsolved killings from the civil rights era, in 2007.