History

Court refuses to unseal grand jury testimony concerning 4 murders by white racists

By Frederick H. Lowe
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta has refused to unseal Grand Jury testimony concerning the 1946 murders of two black couples in rural Georgia believed to have been put in killers’ crosshairs by Governor Eugene Talmadge, who needed to win the rural vote to secure his re-election in 1947 governor’s race.
The Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently ruled 8 to 4 that the court did not have the authority to unseal  grand jury testimony.
Roger and Dorothy Malcom

The ruling overturned two lower court decisions that would have allowed the testimony to be unsealed in the murders of Roger and Dorothy Malcom (also spelled Malcolm) and George and Mae Murray Dorsey by a white mob that dragged the two

George and Mae Murray Dorsey

couples from their car before shooting them.

The murders took place near Moore’s Ford Bridge on the Apalachee River, 50 miles south of Atlanta. The killings are also known as the Moore’s Ford Lynchings.
The murders shocked and horrified the nation and the FBI and police questioned a large number of people, but no one was ever charged with murders.
The murders were sparked when Roger Malcom got into a fight and stabbed his former employer, Barney Hester.
J. Loy Harrison, a wealthy planter, bailed Malcom out of jail and was driving him, his wife, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey to Harrison’s farm.
On the way, a mob of 20 to 30 armed white men dragged the couples from the car, tied them to trees and shot them hundreds of times.
Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge

The FBI investigated Gov. Talmadge, a known racist, for allegedly encouraging the murders of the two black couples, but they never personally questioned him.

Talmadge was governor of Georgia from 1933 to 1937 and from1941 to 1943. In 1946, Talmadge’s opponent, James Carmichael, also a Democrat, won the popular vote but lost the rural vote by 200 votes and thereby the governorship. Talmadge died before he could be sworn into office in 1947.
The grand jury testimony is stored in the National Archives.
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