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Rights Leader's Briefcase Is Found
More Questions Raised in Murder Of Harry T. Moore

By Laurin Sellers
Orlando Sentinel
Sunday, February 4, 2007; A09

MIMS, Fla. -- The briefcase of slain civil rights leader Harry T. Moore, missing for more than a half-century, has been found in an abandoned Brevard County, Fla., barn and will be returned Monday to his daughter.

The leather case was filled with newspaper clippings and letters urging officials to investigate the mistreatment of blacks. It was discovered about a half-mile from where a bomb destroyed the family's home on Christmas night 1951, mortally wounding Moore and his wife, Harriette.

A member of the North Brevard Historical Society, scouring the area for artifacts a few months ago, found the satchel that should have been stored in a property room at the county courthouse.

"Nobody knows, or at least nobody is saying, how it ended up in that barn," Moore's daughter, Evangeline, said by phone during a news conference at Attorney General Bill McCollum's office in Orlando.

She will travel from New Carrollton, Md., on Monday to retrieve the briefcase.

Moore already has pored over copies of some of the documents that the attorney general's office shipped to her.

"When they called and told me they had found his briefcase in a cow barn, I can tell you it was the eeriest feeling I've ever had," said Moore, 76, who pushed for years to have her parents' unsolved case reopened.

Moore said she thinks the briefcase's discovery proves local law enforcement were either involved in her parents' murders or wanted to make sure no one was arrested.

She said her father's briefcase was turned over to then-Brevard County Sheriff Bill Williams the night of the bombing.

"Now I have concrete evidence of just how involved local officials were," she said. "It was not supposed to be anywhere but the courthouse, and obviously somebody gave it to somebody so it would never be discovered. It was a conspiracy, and I've known that for 55 years."

Last year, then-Attorney General Charlie Crist named four deceased Ku Klux Klan members as the killers. In doing so, he said, he was closing the case on one of the biggest remaining mysteries from America's turbulent civil rights era.

But some close to the case are not convinced that Crist, now Florida's governor, found the real culprits.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company