Reporter On Quest To Close 1964 Civil Rights Case

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ATLANTA — Stanley Nelson writes for a small weekly newspaper in the Louisiana delta. For the past four years, he has been obsessed with one story: who threw gasoline into a rural shoe repair and dry goods shop in 1964 and started a fire that killed Frank Morris?

No one disputes that the death of Morris, a well-liked businessman who served both black and white customers, is connected to the Ku Klux Klan. The case is on a list of unsolved civil rights murders the F.B.I. released in February 2007, the day Mr. Nelson first heard of the story.

But for a lengthy article appearing Wednesday in The Concordia Sentinel, Mr. Nelson, 55, put together what he believes is a key piece of the puzzle. He names the last living person he says was there that night.

In the article, both a son and a former brother-in-law of Arthur Leonard Spencer, 71, a truck driver from rural Rayville, La., say he admitted to being involved in the fire. Mr. Spencer’s ex-wife, Mr. Nelson reported, said she had heard the same story from another man who was also there.


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