College Seeks To Solve Civil Rights-Era Cold Case Murders

Actors reenact the 1946 lynching of two black couple including a woman who was seven months pregnant at the Moore's Ford Bridge in Monroe, Ga., Friday, July 25, 2008. No one has ever been charged with the murders. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Credit John Bazemore / AP Photo
Audio version of this story here.

Imagine having a family member murdered and never knowing who committed the act or even where your loved one is buried. It sounds like a plot from a horror story and, in fact, it is. It’s a modern day horror story that still haunts hundreds of families to this day.

Between the early 1940s and late 1960s hundreds of activists in the civil rights movement were murdered across the South. Many of the victims were never found or identified – leaving their anguished families to wonder and question what became of them.

Syracuse University’s Cold Case Justice Initiative wants to change that. Law students, working to help alleviate the pain and suffering even a half century later, review old information and re-investigate the cases, in the hopes that their efforts might help convince authorities to prosecute the cold case murders.

The CCJI is investigating almost 200 cases, led by SU College of Law Professor Janis McDonald.

McDonald and one of her students, Grady High School graduate Alphonse Williams discussed the program, what it involves, the law governing the cases and more on “A Closer Look.”