|February 1, 2005
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today sent the following letter to U.S. Attorney General-Designate Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller, requesting access to files and evidence gathered in previous federal investigations of the Christmas Day 1951 murders of Florida civil rights pioneer Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette:
The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzales Director Robert Mueller
United States Attorney General-Designate Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice J. Edgar Hoover Building
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001 Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
Dear Attorney General-Designate Gonzales and Director Mueller:
Civil rights pioneer Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette were brutally murdered on December 25, 1951 by a bomb exploded under the bedroom of their home in Mims, Florida. To this day the people responsible for these crimes have not been identified. A federal investigation at the time and subsequent investigations by county and state authorities have been inconclusive.
The public needs to solve the murders of these early civil rights workers or be assured that every possible effort has been made to do so. Recent breakthroughs in other civil rights murders of the 1950s and 1960s, such as those of the Freedom Riders of Mississippi and the Alabama Church bombings, have stirred public hope for a solution of the Moore murders.
In December, 2004 I opened a new investigation in hopes that the passage of time and fresh eyes may reveal information that will identify the murderers.
From 1951 to 1955 the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted an extensive investigation of the bombing and murders. It examined physical evidence, interviewed people, and reviewed documents. Over the years the FBI has also assisted other authorities with follow up inquiries. In the 1950s, Department of Justice Prosecutors and a Grand Jury also investigated the crimes and other possibly related incidents.
While the investigations did not result in identification of an individual or individuals to prosecute for the murders, six individuals were indicted for perjury. Those individuals are T. J. McMennamy, William J. Bogar, Harvey S. Reisner, Earnest Glenn Morton, Robert L. Judah, and Emmett M. Hart, Sr. A court dismissed the charges because the Moore murders were not classified as a federal crime at the time.
In 1978 the Brevard County Sheriff re-opened the Moore investigation. Despite reviewing records of the past investigations and interviewing newly identified witnesses and suspects, that investigation also was unable to conclude who committed the crimes.
In 1991 Governor Lawton Chiles ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to re-investigate the murders. The re-investigation included a review of old files, interviews of newly identified possible witnesses, and follow up on the information provided by those witnesses. This investigation, concluded in 1992, was also inconclusive.
The inquiry of the Office of the Attorney General will include a public examination of the earlier investigations and a search for new evidence and witnesses. A review of the records indicates that it is likely the documents available to the Office do not include the complete FBI or Justice Department files on the Moore murders and related inquiries. Among other things, it seems likely that tape recordings, transcripts, and physical evidence, as well as many documents, are not among the information available.
Accordingly, we seek your help. I request that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice assist the re-investigation by making the complete records concerning the Moore bombing investigation, the related investigations, and the perjury investigations and indictments, available for review and copying. I also request an opportunity to examine any and all physical evidence remaining.
Finally, I would appreciate an opportunity for representatives of this office to meet with past and present employees of the Department of Justice who may have information about the bombing. I also wish to determine if transcripts or recordings of grand jury proceedings related to the investigations still exist and who has custody of them, as I may wish to obtain them also.
Your assistance and cooperation will be critical to the effort to resolve this troubling, lingering case and bring some peace to the state and people to whom it matters so much. Thank you for your help.
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this matter in person. Any assistance that you can lend will be greatly appreciated. I can be reached at (850) 245-0140. Thank you for your assistance.