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Florida Identifies Suspects in 1951 Murder of Civil Rights Activists

Fifty-five years after the murder of two civil rights activists in the southern state of Florida, the state attorney general has identified four men as suspects. The murder of Harry Moore and his wife Harriette occurred during a time of bitter racial divisions in the United States. The couple died in a bombing of their Florida home on Christmas Day in 1951.

State Attorney General Charlie Crist identified the four suspects as part of violent factions within the white supremist group, the Ku Klux Klan.

The suspects have all since died. One of them, authorities say, committed suicide the day after an interview with the FBI in 1952.

But despite the passage of time, Crist says the findings of the 20-month investigation are significant, especially to the couple's daughter Evangeline.

Crist, who is also running as a Republican candidate for governor, spoke to Voice of America by phone after the announcement Wednesday in the central Florida town of Mims, where the Moores had lived. "We felt and believe, and (the couple's daughter) Evangeline confirms, that the importance of getting to the truth and being sure that justice is done requires that there be some closure and finality to this case," he said.

He told VOA he was moved to re-open the case in Christmas 2004, after reading a newspaper article indicating that Evangeline wanted his office to take up the case.

He says investigators received no objections from the families of the suspects in the case.

The suspects are identified as Earl Brooklyn, Tillman Belvin, Joseph Cox, and Edward Spivey. Cox is the one who committed suicide.

Wednesday's event was held at a memorial park honoring the slain activists. The daughter Evangeline told the crowd that justice is long overdue. "Justice must be served. We live in a democracy. I should have always known who killed my parents and who destroyed my home and my life," he said.

The bomb attack of the Moores' house happened on what was also the couple's 25th wedding anniversary. Officials say the device was placed under the house. Harry died that night, Harriette nine days later.