The Moore's Ford Lynching InfoCenter

5. Aftershocks


The FBI Comes to Monroe, GA


© AP file

By July 27, FBI agents arrived in Monroe trying to determine if a federal prosecution would be possible. The issue they faced was that murder is a state crime, not a federal crime.

Eventually, a team of up to twenty-five special agents of the FBI joined the agents who initially responded. Special-Agent-in-Charge (S.A.C.) Charles Weeks supervised the assigned agents throughout the investigation.

FBI agents conducted close to 2,800 interviews in their effort to identify members of the mob of as many as 20 – 30 white men who abducted and brutally shot the two African-American couples.

After the FBI completed their interviews in the six-month investigation, they issued over 100 subpoenas. The investigation received little cooperation, no one confessed, and perpetrators were offered alibis for their whereabouts.


A Great Wall of Silence


© AP file

Almost from the start, the federal investigation was frustrated by a wall of silence on the part of local residents. White residents didn’t want to be interviewed because they wanted to protect their own while black people lived in a state of constant fear, afraid of sharing even the most minor details.

From the killers’ perspective, this wall of silence reinforced the notion that blacks could be abused, tortured – and even murdered – with impunity. In all likelihood, the perpetrators became confident that details of the story would only grow fainter as the facts of the crime were gradually forgotten.

Local police did not even launch an investigation into the murder of the Malcolms and Dorseys. On all four death certificates, the coroner wrote the bureaucratic phrase that, for years, had been listed as the cause of death for victims of lynchings across the country: “At the hands of persons unknown”.


The Effort to Gather Suspects


© AP file

In the photo at left, Loy Harrison (right) shows Oconee County Sheriff J.M. Bond and Coroner W.T. Brown of Walton County the spot where four black victims were abducted from his car and slain in the nearby woods.

Many believe the executions were nothing more than a voting rights massacre; the two young couples were murdered to send a message to black people in the community, "If you register and if you vote, this is what will happen to you."

The effort to gather suspects eventually ground to a halt, at least by local investigators. There would be a much greater need for increased manpower, expertise and resources in order to solve a crime of this magnitude.

“The best people in town won’t talk,” a Georgia state trooper said after citizens of Walton County pleaded ignorance about the mob that murdered two African-American couples.


Sources & Resources



The primary sources used for developing content on these pages include the following:

Pitch, Anthony S., The Last Lynching: How a Gruesome Mass Murder Rocked a Small Georgia Town
Skyhorse Publishing, 307 W. 36th St., 11th Floor, New York City, N.Y. 10018 © 2016 by Anthony S. Pitch

Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)
Region 11 Investigative Case Summary (565 pages, PDF)

Additional sources used for developing content on these pages include the following:

The 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynching Case: Another Push for Justice on 10/3/2018
2018 - September 16


Original entry by E. M. Beck, University of Georgia, Stewart E. Tolnay, University of Washington, Seattle, 01/26/2007
2018 - August 26


Activists look to keep history alive through reenactment of Moore's Ford lynching
By Hope Ford, Adrianne Haney
2018 - July 27


Investigations into 1946 Georgia lynching ends, hope for answers lingers
Chattanooga Times Free Press
2018 - March 7
by Associated Press


1946 Lynching: Investigations End, Hope for Answers Lingers
By: KATE BRUMBACK, Associated Press
2018 - February 27


1946 lynching: Investigations end, hope for answers lingers
AP Images Blog
2018 - February 27


Answers to last mass lynching in U.S. die when investigators close case after 72 years
SPLC - Southern Poverty Law Center, By Brett Barrouquere
2018 - February 7


Notorious Ga. Lynching Case Closes After Years of Anguish, No Justice
Article by Brad Schrade, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2018 - January 24


Probes of Moore’s Ford Lynching End with No Charges, AJC learns
By Brad Schrade - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2017 - December 28


Morris County Lawyer Wins Release of Records from 1946 Mass Lynching Case, by Kevin Coughlin
2017 - August 18


Morris County Attorney Seeks Justice in Gruesome 1946 Lynching, by Kevin Coughlin
2017 - July 31


Righting an Historic Wrong: The 1946 Moore's Ford Lynching Case May Finally Be Drawing to a Close
By Joe Bell, Esq.
2017 - July 17


The Horror of Lynchings Lives On
The New York Times, by the Editorial Board
2016 - December 3


A Lynching in Georgia: the Living Memorial to America’s History of Racist Violence
2016 - November 2


70th observance of Moore’s Ford lynching set in Monroe; reenactment of killings planned
By Wayne Ford
2016 - July 21


FBI Questions Elderly Georgia Man in Connection with Unsolved 1946 Lynching at Moore’s Ford Bridge
New York Daily News, by Doyle Murphy
2015 - February 17, 2015


Civil Rights Leaders Claim New Leads in 68-year-old Moore’s Ford Lynching Case
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, by Christian Boone
2014 - March 5


U.S. Urges Opening Up Old Grand Jury Records
New York Times, by Charlie Savage
2011 - October 19


Judge Orders Release of Nixon’s Watergate Testimony
By JOHN SCHWARTZ, New York Times
2011 - July 29


Holding on to Those Who Can't Be Held: Reenacting a Lynching at Moore's Ford, Georgia
Central Washington University, by Mark Auslander
2010 - November 8


'Murder' Seeks Justice for Victims Of Jim Crow Era
Special to The Washington Post, by Ellen Maguire
2008 - October 6


Seeking Justice for Victims of Terror Long Ago
New York Times, by Felicia R. Lee
2008 - October 3


New evidence collected in 1946 lynching case
CNN, by Doug Gross
2008 - July 2


Looking Behind Tragedy at Moore's Ford Bridge; Foot soldier of civil rights era works to solve 60-year-old-mystery, Associated Press (AP)
2006 - July 24


1946 Killing Of 4 Blacks Is Recalled
New York Times
1999 - June 1