After an extensive investigation, the editor of a small Louisiana newspaper has linked an ex-Klansman to the 1964 murder of a Black businessman.
For the last four years, Stanley Nelson of The Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, Louisiana has probed the unsolved murder of Frank Morris, a Black man burned alive inside his shoe repair shop in the mid-1960s.
Several family members of Arthur Leonard Spencer, a 71-year-old former Klansman, told Nelson that Spencer had admitted to the crime.
Studying FBI records, Nelson learned that two White men torched Morris’ shop while another remained in a getaway vehicle. Morris succumbed to severe burns four days later, but not before detailing the incident to investigators. Though he never identified his killers, records show he told officers at least two were his “friends.” No one was ever charged in the case.
“We are aware of these allegations, but allegations alone are not proof,” the FBI said in a statement to the Associated Press. “As with any case, the FBI is committed to a thorough investigation of all information we receive.”
In 2008, the agency announced a $10,000 reward for any information in connection with the case. Spencer, now a truck driver, maintains his innocence.
“I feel sorry for his family, but I didn’t have nothing to do with it,” he told the AP.
In his numerous articles on the case, Nelson quoted Spencer’s ex-wife, ex-brother-in-law and son.
The former brother-in-law said Spencer recounted manning a getaway car as a group burned down a store with a victim inside. The ex-wife said her dead friend claimed he and Spencer killed the man, and the son said Spencer admitted to having a hand in the murder.
“It’s been a long battle. It’s hard. It still is. We are hoping there will be justice,” Morris’ granddaughter, Rosa Williams, told the AP.