Frank Morris probe draws U.S. Attorney, FBI to Ferriday
by Stanley Nelson - posted Thursday, January 31st, 2008 @ 8:25 am
U.S. Atty. Donald Washington of Lafayette, representatives of his office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will visit Ferriday on Thursday (January 31) as part of the beefed up investigation into the 1964 murder of shoe shop owner Frank Morris.
These federal prosecutors and agents plan to meet privately with persons having knowledge of the Morris case and other cold Civil Rights investigations which occurred in past decades.
"We have conducted a complete review of the investigative materials written decades ago about the Frank Morris case," Washington said this week. "Now, we would like to become familiar with the Ferriday community and those persons who may have any information concerning the Frank Morris investigation. Our goal is to bring those involved in Frank Morris' death to justice."
Morris, who operated his shoe shop along Hwy. 84 in Ferriday, died four days after being severely burned during the arson of his business, which was also his home, on December 10, 1964. Last week, The Sentinel reported an eyewitness account of an encounter Morris had with three white men just hours prior to the arson.
The witness said the three men burst through the front door, cornered Morris and threatened him. Hours later, the shop went up in flames.
Washington said that in addition to seeking justice for Morris, "we also want to help Frank Morris' family and the citizens of Ferriday bring closure to this matter. Our goals will not be accomplished without the help of those who have knowledge of the events that happened in 1964. We strongly encourage those who have information about the case to contact the FBI."
He said he would like "those having information to call the FBI at 318-443-5097. We will maintain the confidentiality of any information received while our investigation is ongoing."
Syracuse University law professor Janis McDonald said this week that "the fact that the U.S. Attorney is coming to Ferriday and conducting his own investigation is an important step in holding people accountable for the murder of Frank Morris."
McDonald and Paula Johnson, also a law professor at Syracuse, have for the past months spearheaded a volunteer effort by a team of law students investigating Morris' murder. While that effort continues, the law school work has expanded into other Civil Rights-era cold case investigations.