Officials say ex-Klan leader may be buried in pauper’s grave

Published 7:24 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Mississippi corrections officials say former Ku Klux Klan leader Sam Bowers may be buried in a pauper’s grave at the state penitentiary at Parchman, where he died Sunday of a heart attack.

Bowers, 82, the one-time Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, was serving a life sentence. He was convicted in 1998 of ordering the fatal firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer Sr. near Hattiesburg in 1966.

Tara Booth, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, said Monday that officials have been unable to track down any relatives. If officials are unable to find family or friends willing to take the body, Bowers will be buried in a pauper’s grave, she said.

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Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said the Parchman prison has two cemeteries, where he said hundreds of inmates have been buried. Every inmate buried there gets a headstone paid from a special fund, not from taxpayers’ pockets, he said.

Dahmer’s widow, Ellie, said: “I would have thought the Klansmen would have taken up enough money to bury him,” she said.