National News

3 Cold Cases in N.C. Could Be Reinvestigated

Posted February 27, 2007

— Three murders in North Carolina dating back to the 1950s and 1960s are among scores of civil rights era cases that may be re-opened.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which reports on hate crimes, has forwarded a list of 74 cold cases in 11 states to the FBI in the hopes that it may be helpful in future investigations. The Justice Department is holding a news conference Tuesday to talk about a new database of old civil rights era cases that now could be investigated.

Those killed in North Carolina on the list are Clarence Cloninger of Gaston, William Owens of New Bern, and W.G. Singleton of Shelby.

The Montgomery, Alabama-based center's researchers say many of the people on its list died at the hands of law enforcement officers. If whites were charged, they were often exonerated by sympathetic juries, researchers said.

"In each case there was significant evidence that the death may have been a racial murder," said Mark Potok, director of the center's Intelligence Project.

Researchers started the list in the late 1980s when the group was putting together a civil rights memorial.

"We did a lot of research on these names and we're very hopeful that this information will be helpful to the FBI and particularly that it will be helpful to the families of those who were murdered," Potok said.

Thirty-two of the deaths happened in Mississippi. The others were in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and New York.

Last month, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the bureau was aggressively seeking to solve cold civil rights cases, vowing to "pursue justice to the end, and we will, no matter how long it takes, until every living suspect is called to answer for their crimes."

For most cases on the center's list, the statute of limitations under federal civil rights laws will have run out, U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton has said. In others, charges could not be brought because the accused already have faced charges and been cleared by a jury.

Still, researchers at the law center believe each is worth investigation.


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  • Say it to my face Feb 28, 2007

    This is fine and all, but I think it's waste of resources. There's so many unsolved crimes, missing children...etc today- that needs attention.

  • Gnathostomata Feb 28, 2007

    War Between the States was first and foremost about States Rights, Right to Secede from the Union; Lincoln didn't bring up Slavery until the Third Year of the war, because he knew it would be devisive...Most families did not own slaves, but raised large families to farm the land. If you want to try someone for atrocities, try the carpetbaggers that came down and made sure to ruin what was left of the South...seems we still have them coming down, tryin' to change things to suit for Cold Cases, let the chips fall where they may...maybe they will uncover the fact that some families are not as innocent as they claim to be. The decendants deserve the truth.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Feb 28, 2007

    I didnt think there was a statute of limitations on murder.

  • Sunne Feb 28, 2007

    The Civil War did not occur after slavery; slavery was one of the reasons for the Civil War. Bringing murderers to justice has nothing to do with slavery. Cold cases are being reopened all over the country regardless of the race of the victim. Anyone who commits a murder deserves to be punished for it no matter what the race, no matter how long it takes and no matter how old or how young. Would slavery or racism have been discussed if the victims were not African-American? I don't think so...your prejudice is showing.

  • mugofstout Feb 27, 2007

    yasir, you are a fool! The civil war, which occured after slavery ended, occured in the 1860's. A bit more than 50 years ago don't you think? And your race continues to rape and slaughter women and children...mostly of your own race. And not just here but world wide. And on your own continent, by now your mouthy self would have had your hands cut off by some warlords lackeys. And the worst crimes in history are being commited by your own race against your own race now. And many Blacks who were freed owned slaves here themselves, as did many Native Americans. Grow up read a book, and spew out something rational and relevent.

  • woody Feb 27, 2007


  • i am batman Feb 27, 2007

    can't we all just get along?

  • cm258 Feb 27, 2007

    Most of the people that probably committed the crimes are probably either dead or in a nursing home by now and do not remember the crime to begin with. Find the Killer of Michelle Young. I do not want to seem cold about the other killings but I would rather the one who has the strenth to beat someone to death locked up then a frail man that will be judged by his maker soon enough. What good is a trial for someone that will not live much longer anyway. He will pay for his sins soon enough.

  • yasir Feb 27, 2007

    This is why Sharpton is related to and White man, we all as blacks are probably related to someone White, remember slave owners raped and impregnated young black women and separeted them from there families, we can never really trace our ROOTS.. its a Shame that some Blacks dont realize this, READ YOU HISTORY IF YOU CAN FIND IT. America admitted to the doing every race wrong but the Blacks..WHY.. MAN this is sad,if you these responses, its nothing but racism is still here stronger than ever, GET OVER IT.. FIRST ADMIT IT>>

  • yasir Feb 27, 2007

    It seems that some people really dont Understand, for someone to say we should just forget it, you might as well tell us to forget our History(its only been 50years since Blacks was Slaves in Good OL America)its about time that this small aout of people are being brought to JUSTICE, we as blacks never had slaves in America we didnt make the rules for Whites only, we didnt slaughter Women and Children and Hang them from trees like Animals, its about time that America admits to the Worst crime in History, never forget what you need to do is teach your children so this thing can never happen again..