Edward Allen See, the Nevada prison inmate who claims that the Ku Klux Klan tortured and killed 50 Washington area blacks in the early 1960s, failed a lie detector test on whether he personally participated, his lawyer said yesterday he was told by federal agents.
But attorney William Dwyer, of Beverly Hills, Calif., who said he owns the rights to any book or movie made from the former Klan member's story, also said See passed another part of the test involving the burial of the alleged victims. Dwyer said See is scheduled to take a second polygraph examination Tuesday, to be administered by the FBI.
Dwyer said federal law enforcement officials are trying to gauge the credibility of his client's story before considering a search of the area where See says the bodies are buried, in rural Fauquier County, Va. A Justice Department spokesman would not comment on whether See had taken a polygraph or would be given another test.
A letter provided by Dwyer, apparently from a Justice Department official, says the exam will be given Tuesday.
"I have no more idea than anybody else whether or not it is true," Dwyer said. "However, I am willing to suffer whatever ridicule there may be for following a falsehood because it's such a small price to pay for righting an enormous wrong."
In Warrenton, where See says he lived from age 10 to his mid-teens, when he alleges the killings occurred, longtime residents interviewed yesterday said they were surprised by his claims and did not remember him.
"I was absolutely shocked when I heard about this and I had never heard anything about anything like this," said Capt. Ronald Stalls, who has worked for the Fauquier County Sheriff's Department for 28 years. "I have been around talking to as many people as I could and nobody knows anything about this and nobody knows him."
Conway Porter, president of the Fauquier County NAACP, who has lived there all his life, said he could not recall any stories of blacks disappearing from the area during the '60s. Porter said that he had "heard rumors of the KKK operating in southern Fauquier" but that the stories never were confirmed.
He said local NAACP members will meet to discuss the allegations and to make sure that no incidents have been overlooked.
Warrenton Mayor J. Willard Lineweaver, 68, is skeptical of See's story.
"I've never heard of any cross burnings in the 1960s," said Lineweaver, who has served on the Town Council more than 31 years.
"You know that if 50 people were killed and buried in Fauquier County that somebody would have said something. If this happened 30 years ago, why is he just coming forward?"
Dwyer said See first contacted the FBI in February with an offer to disclose the sites where he claims the bodies are buried, including a mass grave. He was given the first polygraph test in March, Dwyer said.
See has agreed to show the FBI the graves in exchange for a move to federal prison for himself and an inmate friend, Dwyer said. See is serving two consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole for killing two Las Vegas women in 1979. He also is serving a 15-year term for a hostage-taking and escape attempt from the Nevada prison in 1981.
Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder ordered an investigation by the State Police on Oct. 10. The FBI is also investigating See's claims, authorities said.
Records from the Nevada Department of Probation and Parole show that See lived for a time in Virginia. He was sentenced to five months in the Beaumont Training School in 1959 on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He was convicted in 1972 for the kidnapping and rape of a woman in Prince William County.
In a telephone interview yesterday from Ely State Prison, See, 43, said he joined a 30-member branch of the Klan based in Fauquier in 1961 when he was 13. He was recruited by a teenage friend whose father was "grand wizard" of the group, he said.
The group kidnapped black residents of the District, Fairfax, Prince William, Culpeper, Manassas and Front Royal, he said. He would not say how many of the alleged killings he participated in or whether he actually committed any of the killings.
Some of the victims -- he said they included "a few women" -- were targeted for opposing segregation laws, "but most of them were killed just because they existed," See said.