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Police Solve Cold Case – Racially Motivated Murder of Timothy Coggins in 1983

Good Cops just don’t give up solving crimes…

Timothy Coggins' relatives remember him as playful and always smiling.

Timothy Coggins – Brutally murdered in 1983

Man killed in 1983 for ‘socializing’ with white woman, DA says

Suspects arrested in the 1983 slaying of a black man in Georgia were angry that he was socializing with a white woman, Spalding County District Attorney Benjamin Coker told CNN.

Timothy Coggins, 23, was found stabbed to death on October 9, 1983, near a high-tension power line in Sunny Side, a town about 30 miles south of Atlanta.
The 34-year-old cold case, which broke in October with the arrest of four men and a woman, was widely believed to be racially motivated, though no suspects or motive had previously been uncovered.
Then-investigator Larry Campbell told the local newspaper at the time that there were bloodstains and tire tracks in the field where Coggins’ body was found. Both his lungs had been punctured, he said.
“He had been worked over with a knife pretty well,” Campbell told the Griffin Daily News. “He had defense wounds where he’d thrown up an arm and so forth.”
At a Wednesday bond hearing for suspects Frank Gebhardt, 59, and William Moore, 58, Corker accused them of acting brutally and having racist intentions.
“The murder of Timothy Coggins was due to Coggins socializing with a white female and that Coggins had been stabbed multiple times and drug behind a truck by Franklin Gebhardt and William Moore Sr.,” Coker told the court, according to CNN affiliate WSB-TV.
From left, Bill Moore Sr. and Frankie Gebhardt have been charged with murder in Coggins' death, while Gregory Huffman, Lamar Bunn and his mother, Sandra Bunn, have been charged with obstruction, police say.

From left, Bill Moore Sr. and Frankie Gebhardt have been charged with murder in Coggins’ death, while Gregory Huffman, Lamar Bunn and his mother, Sandra Bunn, have been charged with obstruction, police say.

The suspects — who are charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and concealing a death — were denied bond.
Calls and emails to Gebhardt and Moore’s lawyers were not returned.
Three other individuals charged with obstructing the investigation into Coggins’ death remain out on bond, Coker said. Two of the suspects were working in law enforcement at the time of their alleged crimes, police say.
Coker’s statement in court Wednesday is in line with the recollections of Coggins’ niece.
Heather Coggins told CNN last month that most of her uncle’s friends were white, which might not have sat well with some folks in middle Georgia during the early 1980s.
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Another Civil Rights Era Murder Solved?

This one apparently solved by the work of a local newspaper. Morris may have been murdered by the KKK for nothing other than the perspicacity of being a black man operating a successful business with both black and white customers.

Frank Morris (in the apron and visor) is seen standing in front of his shoe shop in the 1950s. He was killed when his shoe shop burned down in Ferriday, La., in 1964.

Frank Morris was in the Apron and visor in the middle of the group standing in front of his store

 

Paper names ex-Klansman in civil rights murder

Early on the morning of December 10, 1964, Frank Morris ran out of his shoe store, his clothes and skin on fire.

People who saw him in the hospital afterward said the African-American businessman was so badly burned they didn’t recognize him.

“Only the bottom of his feet weren’t burned. He was horrible to look at,” said the Rev. Robert Lee Jr., now 96.

Morris survived for four days before dying — long enough to tell the FBI that two men had broken into his store while he slept, smashed windows, doused the place in gasoline and told him: “Get back in there, nigger.”

Locals in Ferriday, the small Louisiana town where Morris lived and died, remember him as having both white and black customers, which was rare for black businesses in the segregated South in the days before civil rights. He would come out of his store onto the sidewalk so white female customers wouldn’t have to go inside alone.

No one has ever been charged with killing him. But Wednesday, more than 46 years after his death at age 51, a local newspaper has named two men it believes were part of a Ku Klux Klan “wrecking crew” that torched his store and murdered him.

One, Arthur Spencer, is still alive. The second, O.C. “Coonie” Poissot, died in 1992.

The Concordia Sentinel, based in Ferriday, reports Spencer’s son and the brother of his ex-wife both say Spencer told them he was involved in the killing.

Spencer’s ex-wife, Brenda Rhodes, says Poissot told her that he and Spencer were on the wrecking crew that burned Morris’s store.

“It came at a time of great lawlessness in this parish, when the Klan was in control of this parish — or if not in control, a great influence,” said Sentinel editor Stanley Nelson, using the Louisiana term for county.

The newspaper’s sources all indicated that the Klan wrecking crew didn’t necessarily expect Morris to be in the store when they burned it.

Spencer’s former brother-in-law, Bill Frasier, said he’d once asked Spencer if he ever killed anyone.

“We did accidentally one time,” Spencer said, according to Frasier.

Sentinel editor Nelson said many racially motivated killings in that era were done by people who might not have planned to commit murder — but should have known what they were doing.

“Almost all of the people that were killed in those days, no one set out to kill,” he said. Some beatings got too violent, for example, he said.

But, he added, “When you go to burn a building, you run the risk that a person is going to be there.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Black History

 

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