Burrage was born in 1929 and lived in Neshoba County, Mississippi, where he owned a trucking business. He owned the property where three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, were buried after being murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan on 21 June 1964.
Though Burrage claimed he had no involvement in the murders, an informant told the FBI that Burrage volunteered a dam on his property as a place to hold the murdered workers’ bodies. In addition, Ben Chaney, younger brother of James Chaney, also claimed that confessions of other suspects in the killings implicated Burrage.
With Burrage’s death, the likelihood of future prosecutions in the so-called Missisippi Burning cases diminishes. Though one more suspect is still alive, Burrage’s passing, according to civil rights activist Roscoe Jones, means that “Mississippi Burning is burning out.”
To read more about Burrage’s alleged involvement in the civil rights killings, click here.