Earl Hodges was a mechanic in Eddiceton, Miss., killed by Klansmen in 1965 over fear that he was going to tell authorities about wrecking projects committed by the Bunkley Klavern of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Some of those White Knights, including James Ford Seale and his father, Clyde Seale, were members of the SDG.
Klansmen from that klavern had killed two Black teens in 1964 – Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Moore.
Hodges’ murder chilled Klansmen throughout Louisiana and Mississippi, who realized without question that the oath of silence about Klan activities was indeed punishable by death, as Klan leaders had warned.
Of the eight murders linked to the Silver Dollar Group, Hodges was the only white man targeted.
Hodges had once been a happily married man with two sons. But in the 1950s, his life hit a downward spiral. He began to drink heavily and womanize. His service station/mechanic shop, which had once thrived, began to lose business despite Hodges’ wife’s best efforts to keep it going.
Hodges’ brothers more than once had him hospitalized to be treated for his alcoholism, but he suffered a repeated cycle of going sober during treatment but drinking heavily once released.
During his final days, Hodges was attempting to turn his life around. He told several people that he wanted to be a better man and to become an important part of the lives of his two sons once again. Once he wept while talking to a preacher, explaining the difficulties of alcoholism and his desire to be a better man.
One night in August 1965, Klansmen from the Bunkley Klavern set up a meeting with Hodges near the home of Hodges’ father. Earl had been living with his father since the breakup of his marriage. The shotgun house was modest with no electricity and no running water inside.
Klansmen were not only concerned that Hodges would inform on the Klan, but they were also furious because Hodges had made it a point to badmouth the Klan and Klan leaders. Hodges had once been a White Knight but had quit out of disgust with the Klan and its violent apparatus.
Informants indicated that at the meeting between Klansmen and Hodges that an argument and then a brawl broke out between Hodges, one or two of his friends, and with Klansmen led by Clyde Seale and James Ford Seale. Hodges was badly beaten and dropped off near the home of his father, who was away that night.
The next morning, Hodges body was discovered outside the house. He was bloodied and bruised severely; his head bashed in.
After the beating, Hodges stumbled through the house, leaving handprints and smears of blood along the walls. He made his way outside to drink water from the hand pump before he died.
His murder haunted the Hodges’ family.