Joseph Edwards

By Drew White

Concordia Parish native Charles Montgomery has claimed to have stumbled on the corpse of Civil Rights Era homicide victim Joseph Edwards in the pigpen of his family’s property in Vidalia.

Edwards, who disappeared July 12, 1964, is widely believed to be the victim of an unsolved foul play by Klan-sympathizing local law enforcement officers.

 

blackie-drane            In a series of 2016 interviews, Montgomery, who lives in northern Texas, told the LSU Manship School Cold Case Project that his grandfather figure, Concordia Parish Chief Deputy Sheriff Frank DeLaughter, told him matter-of-factly in 1965 that he shot Edwards, a black man, unintentionally as he and a fellow law officer were pulling the 23-year-old black man from his car on a levee near Vidalia.

Montgomery said DeLaughter, whose grandmother was the lawman’s mistress, and fellow Vidalia policeman Bill Ogden were intending to give him a beating because of alleged advances he made on a white co-worker at the Shamrock Motel in Vidalia.

Montgomery stated he was motivated to share his recollections about two cold cases after reading stories about the Klan-related incidents in Ferriday during the mid-1960’s.  His intention, Montgomery said, was to clear DeLaughter’s name from the notorious murder of black shoe shop owner Frank Morris, another notorious case in 1964, but also identify him as the killer of Joseph Edwards.

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Stanley Nelson, editor of Concordia (Parish) Sentinel and author of a book on Klan killings in the area, dismisses Montgomery’s version of where the body was taken.

As a young man, Montgomery recalls seeing a body dumped in the mud of a pig pen near a pond during his morning chores as he tended to the animals on the farm owned by his stepfather, Judson Lee “Blackie” Drane, who ran gambling interests in Concordia Parish for the New Orleans-based Marcello organized crime family.

Edwards was returning home from his job as a porter at the Shamrock Motel when he was pulled over by DeLaughter along Highway 84, near the Dixie Lanes bowling alley, according to FBI investigative files at the time which quoted witnesses.

DeLaughter was responding to a call about a disturbance at Haney’s Big House, a Ferriday juke joint of regional fame, which also hosted white area musicians the likes Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley..  Moments later, Ogden arrived on the scene, the FBI reported.  Both men were members of the KKK while serving as law enforcement officers.

Montgomery says he looked on the chief deputy – who was married but in a long-term affair with Montgomery’s grandmother – as an “adopted” grandfather.

Montgomery told the Cold Case Project team that DeLaughter recalled to him that he approached Edwards’ Buick, holding a stainless steel flashlight in one hand and a Colt .45 in the other. When trying to wrestle Edwards out of the vehicle, DeLaughter said he accidentally shot and killed the young man.

Ogden and Delaugher put the body in the trunk of DeLaughter’s Pontiac Catalina. The two men headed toward Drane’s farm about a mile east of the incident.

Montgomery said a series of gates were always unlocked at sale barn, barriers that had to be crossed to reach Drane’s home. Once DeLaughter reached the premises, he and Ogden allegedly dumped the Edwards’ corpse in Drane’s pigpen located next to a murky pond, said Montgomery.

When Montgomery spotted the body the next morning, he said he remembers running inside to alert his stepfather of a mysterious object he referred to as “a bloody mass” in the hog pen. Drane told Montgomery to fetch his uncle and the two men rushed to the scene.

Montgomery never learned what happened after that, but knew Drane and his “posse,” men who worked in his sale barn and assisted in his operations, emptied the pond a couple years later without a reason.

Different theories swirl about the parish concerning Edwards’s murder.

Sentinel Editor Nelson, considered a resident expert on the terror of that time, says Edwards may have bolted from his Buick and ran to the Mississippi River levee while the two deputies pursued him in their patrol car, perhaps running over and killing him.  They then would have had to dispose of the body, and that’s where the versions begin to vary.

Lewis “Slick” Matthews, a Ferriday tire and auto repair shop owner who knew Edwards, believes the victim was thrown into the “blue hole,” a spot approximately 50 feet deep in Deer Park Lake.

Nelson now believes that Edwards was buried in a partially constructed levee nearby which was covered over with tons of soil within days.

The late Robert Lee Jr., a civil rights activist and native of Concordia Parish, said he and his friends had warned Edwards to turn away when “white women start grinning” at him. Edwards continued to converse with white women, however, which led to his death.

Drane earned substantial revenue from his slot machine and other gambling operations in Concordia Parish, most notable the Morville Lounge, south of Vidalia.

Drane’s “posse” assisted him in managing his clubs, hosting dogfights in his barn and enforcing policies. He bought his gambling devices from Mafia boss Carlos Marcelo.

Ironically, there is no evidence in the more than 150,000 pages of FBI investigative documents obtained by the Cold Case Project over the last six years that show Drane to be a member of the Klan.  He did, however, allow Klan leader Ed Fuller of Adams County, Miss., to live in a trailer behind his property. Fuller was a part of Drane’s posse and ran the gambling operations in Blackie’s Lounge, according to Montgomery, the stepson.

The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office and Vidalia City Police Department, on the other hand, had many KKK members and ties.

A member of Drain’s posse, Jon Cain, who still lives in Ferriday, told the Cold Case Project that FBI agents were sent to Ferriday to investigate Klan activity during the Sixties and the bureau developed several Klan informants, such as E.D. Morace and O.C. “Connie” Poissot.  Their information about the gambling and corruption in the Sheriff’s Department often to lead federal agents in another direction.

Longtime Concordia Parish Sheriff Noah Cross presented Drane a reserve deputy’s badge, giving the gambler new power within the community. Montgomery claims Cross, who was convicted in federal court of perjury in 1971, never took bribes during his time spent as sheriff in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary.

Montgomery says DeLaughter testified falsely against Cross, saying he personally delivered money to his boss at the latter’s farm. Montgomery claims DeLaughter, the “true chief law enforcer at the time,” pocketed the money.

Montgomery also believes DeLaughter did not instigate the firebombing murder of Frank Morris who was burned alive in his popular Ferriday shop in December 1964.

Montgomery believes Poissot protected his own involvement in the Morris murder by becoming a Klan informant for the FBI.  He claims Poissot bragged to him years later about killing a black man in Ferriday. Montgomery and Poissot, who had a lengthy list of convictions for low-level crimes, coincidentally worked with one another in 1983 at Enrod, a Sweetwater, Texas, company that sold oil field equipment.

Poissot left Ferriday after suspicions arose of his involvement in the burning of one of Drane’s warehouses in the late 1960s. Poissot was known around Ferriday as an arsonist and pyromaniac.  Drane distrusted Poisso, says Montgomery, noting that Drane’s posse was searching for Poissot after the warehouse was destroyed.

DeLaughter and Drane faced a year in prison during the early 1970s for civil rights violations.  Drane was angered about one of his employees, Cliff Davis, a white man, who he believed stole a piece of equipment from the gambler’s warehouse with the intention of selling it in Mississippi.

DeLaughter and Drane, along with Ed Fuller, took Davis to the Ferriday City Jail and beat him nearly to death. They also used an electric cattle prod on Davis.

Drane never trusted DeLaughter after he suspected the deputy had placed Montgomery’s corpse on his property, said Montgomery..Drane fell out with DeLaughter when the latter testified against him in court for his involvement in the beating of Cliff Davis.

Montgomery and his mother experienced newfound freedom while Drane was in prison. During his absence, they spent his money and Montgomery’s mother started seeing another man, Billy Clark.

Drane received word of this wife’s infidelity from one of his mistresses, a woman named Margie, and from Drane posse member Jon Cain.

The night Drane came home from prison, he beat Montgomery’s mother senseless. The young Montgomery shot Drane in the face with a rifle in an attempt to save his mother, disabling Drane for life.  Montgomery was not charged in the shooting incident and he left for Texas shortly after that.

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Names of Victims

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Names on this Department of Justice Cold Case Initiative list with a bio (in parentheses) behind them is a link that take viewers to those victims’ biographies compiled by The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Program at Northeastern University School of Law. The program’s main website can be accessed at:
http://www.northeastern.edu/civilrights/

* Click on the victims’ names for the original investigation files for the cases.
* Click on “Bio” for the the victims’  biographies.
* The unclickable items have no biographical or investigative data at this time.

NAME OF VICTIM INCIDENT LOCATION INCIDENT DATE CLOSING DATE
Louis Allen (Bio) Amite County, Mississippi January 31, 1964  May 18, 2015
Andrew Lee Anderson (Bio) Crittenden County, Arkansas July 17, 1963 April 9, 2010
Frank Andrews Lisman, Alabama November 28, 1964
Isadore Banks (Bio) Marion, Arkansas June 9, 1964 August 2, 2012
John Larry Bolden Chattanooga, Tennessee May 3, 1958 April 15, 2010
Preston Bolden San Antonio, Texas May 8, 1953 May 26, 2011
James Brazier (Bio) Dawson, Georgia April 20, 1958 April 6, 2009
Thomas Brewer (Bio) Columbus, Georgia February 18, 1956 April 6, 2009
Hilliard Brooks Montgomery, Alabama August 13, 1952 April 9, 2010
Benjamin Brown (Bio) Jackson, Mississippi May 11, 1967 March 19, 2013
Charles Brown Yazoo City, Mississippi June 18, 1957 April 16, 2010
Gene Brown/a.k.a. Pheld Evans Canton, Mississippi 1964 April 21, 2010
Jessie Brown Winona, Mississippi January 13, 1965 April 19, 2010
Carrie Brumfield Franklinton, Louisiana September 12, 1967 September 24, 2013
Eli Brumfield McComb, Mississippi October 13, 1961 April 16, 2010
Johnnie Mae Chappell Jacksonville, Florida March 23, 1964 March 20, 2015
Jessie Cano Brooksville, Florida January 1, 1965 June 3, 2011
Silas Caston (Bio) Hinds County, Mississippi March 1, 1964 May 2, 2010
James Chaney (Bio) Philadelphia, Mississippi June 21, 1964
Thad Christian (Bio) Anniston, Alabama August 28, 1965 April 6, 2011
Clarence Cloniger Gaston, North Carolina October 10, 1960 April 3, 2009
Willie Countryman Dawson, Georgia May 25, 1958 April 6, 2009
Vincent Dahmon (Bio) N/A N/A April 12, 2010
Jonathan Daniels Lowndes County, Alabama August 20, 1965 April 26, 2011
Woodrow Wilson Daniels (Bio) Yalobusha County, Mississippi June 25, 1958 April 12, 2010
Henry Hezekiah Dee (Bio) Parker’s Landing, Mississippi May 2, 1964 March 15, 2010
George Dorsey Monroe, Georgia July 25, 1946
Mae Dorsey Monroe, Georgia July 25, 1946
Roman Ducksworth (Bio) Taylorsville, Mississippi April 9, 1962 April 12, 2010
Joseph Dumas Perry, Florida May 5, 1962 April 9, 2010
Joseph Edwards Vidalia, Louisiana July 12, 1964 February 20, 2013
Willie Edwards (Bio) Montgomery, Alabama January 23, 1957 July 2, 2013
James Evansington Tallahatchie County, Mississippi December 24, 1955 April 12, 2010
Andrew Goodman (Bio) Philadelphia, Mississippi June 21, 1964
Mattie Greene Ringgold, Georgia May 20, 1965 May 4, 2012
Jasper Greenwood Vicksburg, Mississippi July 10, 1964 June 17, 2010
Jimie Lee Griffith Sturgis, Mississippi September 24, 1965 August 14, 2012
Paul Guihard Oxford, Mississippi September 30, 1962 July 19, 2011
A.C. Hall (Bio) Macon, Georgia October 11, 1962 July 21, 2011
Rogers Hamilton Lowndes County, Alabama October 22, 1957
Adlena Hamlett Sidon, Mississippi January 11, 1966 May 26, 2011
Samuel Hammond Orangeburg, South Carolina February 8, 1968
Collie Hampton Winchester, Kentucky August 14, 1966 June 1, 2011
Alphonso Harris Albany, Georgia December 1, 1966 April 12, 2010
Isaiah Henry Greensburg, Louisiana July 28, 1954 May 21, 2012
Arthur James Hill Villa Rica, Louisiana August 20, 1965 May 18, 2011
Ernest Hunter St. Marys, Georgia September 13, 1958 April 6, 2009
Jimmie Lee Jackson (Bio) Marion, Alabama February 18, 1965 May 3, 2011
Luther Jackson (Bio) Philadelphia, Mississippi October 25, 1959 April 16, 2010
Wharlest Jackson (Bio) Natchez, Mississippi February 27, 1967 May 4, 2015
Earnest Jells (Bio) Clarksdale, Mississippi October 20, 1963 April 16, 2010
Joseph Jeter Atlanta Georgia September 13, 1958 May 2, 2010
Nathan Johnson Alabaster, Alabama May 8, 1966 April 21, 2011
Marshall Johns Ouachita Parish, Louisiana July 13, 1960 April 22, 2010
Birdie Keglar Sidon, Mississippi January 11, 1966 May 18, 2011
Bruce Klunder Cleveland, Ohio March 7, 1964 April 16, 2010
William Henry “John” Lee Rankin County, Mississippi February 25, 1965 May 5, 2011
George Lee (Bio) Belzoni, Mississippi May 7, 1955 June 6, 2011
Herbert Lee (Bio) Amite County, Mississippi September 25, 1961 April 16, 2010
Richard Lillard Nashville, Tennessee July 20, 1958 April 15, 2010
George Love Ruleville, Mississippi January 8, 1958 June 10, 2011
Maybelle Mahone (Bio) Zebulon, Georgia December 5, 1967 April 6, 2009
Dorothy Malcolm Monroe, Georgia July 25, 1946
Roger Malcolm Monroe, Georgia July 25, 1946
Sylvester Maxwell Canton, Mississippi January 17, 1963 May 2, 2010
Bessie McDowell (Bio) Andalusia, Alabama June 14, 1956 April 9, 2010
Earnest McPharland Ouachita Parish, Louisiana July 13, 1960 April 22, 2010
Robert McNair (Bio) Pelahatchie, Mississippi November 6, 1965 May 26, 2011
Clinton Melton (Bio) Sumner, Mississippi December 3, 1955 April 12, 2010
Delano Middleton Orangeburg, South Carolina February 8, 1968
James Andrew Miller Jackson, Georgia August 30, 1964 April 12, 2010
Hosie Miller Newton, Georgia March 25, 1965 June 21, 2011
Booker T. Mixon (Bio) Clarksdale, Mississippi September 12, 1959 August 13, 2012
Neimiah Montgomery (Bio) Cleveland, Mississippi August 10, 1964 April 12, 2010
Charles Edward Moore (Bio) Parkers Landing, Mississippi May 2, 1964 March 15, 2010
Harriette Moore (Bio) Mims, Florida December 25, 1951 July 15, 2011
Harry Moore Mims, Florida December 25, 1951 July 15, 2011
Oneal Moore Vernado, Louisiana June 2, 1965
William Moore Attalla, Alabama April 23, 1963 August 2, 2012
Frank Morris (Bio) Ferriday, Louisiana December 10, 1964 December 30, 2013
James Motley (Bio) Elmore County, Alabama November 20, 1966 April 12, 2010
Claude Neal (Bio) Greenwood, Florida October 26, 1934 October 1, 2013
Samuel O’Quinn (Bio) Centreville, Mississippi August 14, 1959 May 4, 2012
Herbert Orsby (Bio) Canton, Mississippi September 7, 1964 April 12, 2010
Will Owens New Bern, North Carolina March 5, 1956 April 3, 2009
Mack Charles Parker (Bio) Pearl River County, Mississippi May 4, 1959
Larry Payne (Bio) Memphis, Tennessee March 28, 1968 July 5, 2011
Charles Horatious Pickett Columbus, Georgia December 21, 1957 April 12, 2010
William Piercefield Concordia Parish, Louisiana July 24, 1965
Albert Pitts Ouachita Parish, Louisiana July 13, 1960 April 22, 2010
David Pitts Ouachita Parish, Louisiana July 13, 1960 April 22, 2010
Jimmy Powell New York City, New York July 16, 1964 February 9, 2012
William Roy Prather (Bio) Corinth, Mississippi October 31, 1959
Johnny Queen Fayette, Mississippi August 8, 1965 July 26, 2013
Donald Raspberry (Bio) Okolona, Mississippi February 27, 1965 May 13, 2010
James Reeb Selma, Alabama March 8, 1965 May 18, 2011
James Earl Reese (Bio) Gregg County, Texas October 22, 1965 April 15, 2010
Fred Robinson Edisto Island, South Carolina August 3, 1960 February 2, 2012
Johnnie Robinson (Bio) Birmingham, Alabama September 15, 1963 April 9, 2010
Dan Carter Sanders Johnston Co., North Carolina November 18, 1946
Willie Joe Sanford Hawkinsville, Georgia March 1, 1957 July 5, 2012
Michael Schwerner (Bio) Philadelphia, Mississippi June 21, 1964
Marshall Scott Orleans Parish, Louisiana January 1965 May 25, 2012
Jessie James Shelby (Bio) Yazoo City, Mississippi January 21, 1956 May 24, 2010
Ollie Shelby Hinds County, Mississippi January 22, 1965 April 16, 2010
George Singleton Shelby, North Carolina April 30, 1957 April 16, 2010
Ed Smith (Bio) Stateline, Mississippi April 27, 1958 November 5, 2009
Henry Smith Orangeburg, South Carolina February 8, 1968
Lamar Smith (Bio) Brookhaven, Mississippi August 13, 1955 April 12, 2010
Maceo Snipes Butler, Georgia July 18, 1946 April 12, 2010
Eddie Stewart (Bio) Jackson, Mississippi July 9, 1965 May 26, 2011
Isiah Taylor Ruleville, Mississippi June 26, 1964 April 12, 2010
Emmett Till (Bio) Money, Mississippi August 28, 1955 December 28, 2007
Ann Thomas San Antonio, Texas April 8, 1969 April 15, 2010
Freddie Lee Thomas Sidon, Mississippi August 19, 1965 June 9, 2011
Selma Kelly Trigg Hattiesburg, Mississippi January 21, 1965 May 2, 2010
Ladislado Ureste San Antonio, Texas April 23, 1953 April 20, 2010
Hulet Varner Atlanta, Georgia September 10, 1966 April 6, 2009
Clifton Walker (Bio) Woodville, Mississippi February 29, 1964 October 1, 2013
Virgil Ware (Bio) Birmingham, Alabama September 23, 1963 March 29, 2011
James Waymers Allendale, South Carolina July 10, 1965 April 15, 2010
Ben Chester White (Bio) Natchez, Mississippi June 10, 1966 October 16, 2003
John Wesley Wilder Ruston, Louisiana July 17, 1965 May 25, 2011
Rodell Williamson (Bio) Camden, Alabama May 20, 1967 May 2, 2010
Archie Wooden Camden, Alabama December 25, 1967 April 20, 2010
Samuel Younge Tuskegee, Alabama January 3, 1966 March 28, 2011

 

Beatings

Beatings

Photo 1 info:  An FBI map of the area where Watkins and James received beatings in February of 1964.

Photo 1 info:  An FBI map of the area where Watkins and James received beatings in February of 1964.

 

By Ben Wallace

 

During the waning hours of Feb. 13, 1964, Raleigh “Red” Glover of Vidalia parked his car in the middle of the B.B. Beard Road near Monterey, Louisiana, propped open the hood and waited.

 

The car didn’t have engine trouble, but he and at least a half-dozen armed, hooded men, lurking in the bushes next to the road, had set up the scene to make it appear that way.

 

Nearby, two locals, Robert Earl Watkins and Richard James, had finished installing mufflers and repairing the rear bumper of a neighborhood man’s Cadillac. The two black males left the home of G.R. Stewart around dusk, headed for home.

 

Neither Watkins nor James reached his intended destination.

 

According to recently declassified FBI documents concerning Cold Case Civil Rights murders in the 1960s, James saw a 1950s Ford vehicle parked in the middle of the road and decided to pull over to offer help.

 

A white man, later identified as Glover by Watkins, stepped out from behind the hood and said his car was having engine trouble. When James bent over to look under the hood, Glover pulled out a pistol.

 

“This is a holdup. There isn’t anything wrong with the car,” said Glover, a member of the Ku Klux Klan chapter and widely recognized as the leader of the infamous “Silver Dollar Group,” a Klan subset rumored to be responsible for many acts of racial violence in the Concordia Parish, La., and Natchez, Miss., areas.

 

At that moment, a group of hooded and masked men emerged from the roadside bushes with what appeared to be sawed-off shotguns, ordering Watkins and James into Glover’s car.

 

“If you want to live, don’t yell,” Glover said, according to James’ FBI interview three years after the incident.

 

The men piled into the vehicle, with Watkins and James sitting in the middle seat of the front and back seats, respectively. Members of the so-called “wrecking crew” placed hoods over the two men’s heads and bound their hands behind their backs for additional security.

 

According to James, they drove about three miles before emptying out near an abandoned oil well, where two 12-gauge shotgun shells were later recovered.  Glover ordered Watkins and James to strip off their clothes and lie down on the dirt. Nude and exposed, the men had Klan members pinned the limbs of the pair as they awaited their whippings.

 

James received six to eight whips, according to his interview, before being told by Glover to get dressed and run.

 

He took off and after about 30 yards heard gunshots, which James thought meant Watkins had been shot. He lied down and waited a few minutes before running straight to the nearby home of Nelson Flaherty.

 

Mrs. Flaherty heard the gunshots but thought they were from hunters.

Shortly after her husband returned from a meeting at the Baptist Church of Harrisburg, James showed up at their doorstep.

 

After tending to his lashes and lacerated hand, James was able to return home.

 

Watkins did not interview with the FBI, so it’s unknown how he ended up at his parent’s house several miles away. A week after the beatings, Watkins boarded a train in Brookhaven, Miss., en route to Chicago, with $29 from his mother and sister on which to survive until he found work.

Watkins, unlike James, heeded the warning of the Glover and his Klansmen to leave Monterey or they would be killed.

 

Many local residents, including Watkins, according to interviews with his family members, believe the beatings were a result of a phone call Watkins had placed to the wife of R.W. “Dub” Beard earlier day.

According to the FBI documents, Watkins called Mrs. Beard, a white woman, to tell her that some of her cattle had escaped and were in danger of being killed by angry neighbors if she failed to retrieve them soon enough.

 

In an FBI interview with Beard’s husband, Watkins made no such phone call. He did not allow investigators to interview his wife, saying she would have told him had someone made such a phone call.

 

However, nearly everyone else interviewed claimed the phone call was the reason for the whippings, meaning that James was mostly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Glover told an FBI informant that the leader of the Monterey KKK chapter, Wesley Warren, had called in Glover and his crew to take care of the issue with Watkins.

 

“He needed beating,” Warren later told investigators, still adamantly denying any connection to the whippings.

 

The report stated that Glover “was for killing the Negroes and he was not going to just beat any more Negroes and have it reported.”

 

Glover told FBI informants the men involved in the beatings as Tommie Lee Jones, James Lee, James Scarborough and James Font McNeely.  All except McNeely were members of the Silver Dollar Group, according to FBI informants.

 

Then-Condordia Parish Sheriff Noah Cross told the FBI he did not believe the beatings were conducted by any Klan organization, going as far as saying “there is not or never has been any Klan group activity in Concordia Parish.”

 

Deputies did not keep written record of the whipping incident, nor were any parish, state or federal charges ever made against Glover or any other men regarding the case.

 

 

CONTACT: bwall11@lsu.edu 903.574.0861

 

 

Confidential FBI investigative reports

Teams of students have obtained, under the Freedom of Information Act, some 150,000 pages of heretofore confidential FBI investigative reports from field agents gathered at the time which are in possession of the FBI or stored at the National Archives. Nearly 150,000 searchable pages of information from those reports are presented here. More are added every six months. In addition, stories written by the student team, lists of cases and links to other projects are included.

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