The FBI has reopened its investigation of the 1965 murder of a black sheriff's deputy in Bogalusa, saying it has new leads in a killing believed by law enforcement to have been committed by the Ku Klux Klan.
According to special agent Sheila Thorne, a spokeswoman in the FBI's New Orleans office, there are new allegations and new evidence in the murder of Oneal Moore, who was ambushed with his partner, Creed Rogers, on June 2, 1965, on a remote stretch of Louisiana Route 21 in Varnado. Thorne would not comment further.
Maevella Moore, the widow of the slain police officer, says she is "excited" by the news, but declines further comment, as does Rogers, who was injured in the ambush. In a 1998 interview with Gambit Weekly ("The Last Klan Case," Dec. 15, 1998), Rogers said he hasn't forgotten the night of the attack. "The older I get, the more it gets to me," he said.
The crime occurred around 10 p.m. in Varnado, a village on the outskirts of Bogalusa. Rogers and his partner, the first two black sheriffs deputies in Washington Parish, noticed they were being trailed by a pickup truck with a Confederate flag emblem on its front bumper. When they crossed some railroad tracks on the way to Moore's home nearby, they were fired upon. Moore was killed instantly, and Rogers lost an eye in the shooting.
One hour later, Mississippi authorities stopped Ernest Ray McElveen in nearby Tylertown. He was driving a truck that matched Rogers' description, and authorities said he was armed with a .45 caliber pistol and a .22 caliber pistol. But two weeks later, the local district attorney released McElveen, and nobody was ever tried in connection with the shooting. Attempts to reach McElveen, who lives in Bogalusa, were unsuccessful by presstime.
Experts consider the case to be among the last of the unprosecuted civil rights-era crimes. "For many years, the ADL has been vitally interested in seeing this case re-opened, and we are extremely happy to hear the FBI is actively pursuing leads," says Cathy Glaser, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in New Orleans.