Wharlest Jackson

Investigation Discovery will air a one-hour documentary on the 1967 murder of Wharlest Jackson of Natchez on Feb. 18.

The show, which will begin at 8 p.m. central, is the first of a series made by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp.

Jackson died when a bomb placed beneath the driver's seat of his pickup exploded on February 27, 1967. The treasurer of the Natchez NAACP, Jackson had recently taken a promotion as a chemical mixer at the Armstrong Tire plant, a position previously held by white men only.

The FBI blamed the murder on the Ku Klux Klan. No arrests were ever made in the case although several suspects are identified in FBI documents. The bureau is now reinvestigating the murder.

The title of the film is "The Secrets of Natchez," and is part of a series called "The Injustice Files." Investigation Discovery (ID) will also air two other parts of the series in the coming weeks, including "The Ghosts of Bogalusa," on Feb. 25, about the murder of deputy sheriff Oneal Moore in Washington Parish, who was gunned down in 1965, along with another black deputy, Creed Rogers, who survived.

Also a part of the series is "He Walked Alone," to be aired on March 4. This story focuses on the 1963 shooting death of activist William Lewis Moore, a white man, whose body was found on the side of a road in Alabama.

The series was produced for ID by CBS EYE Productions.

Cynthia Deitle, head of the FBI's cold case unit, is featured prominently in the film on Jackson. Jackson's three surviving children -- Wharlest Jackson Jr., Denise Ford and Debra Sylvester are also featured.

Others locals interviewed include Tom Toles, the former sheriff's deputy who was first to arrive at the scene of the crime, Mary Lee Toles, FBI agent Robert Ruby, former Mississippi NAACP Field Secretary Charles Evers, former Natchez police chief Willie Huff, former Natchez NAACP field secretary Jessie Bernard-Williams, former sheriff Tommy Ferrell and former Armstrong Tire supervisor Al Hollingworth.

Jackson's widow, Exerlena, who had remarried before her death in 2009, is also featured in a home movie discussing Jackson's murder.

In the film, the FBI's Deitle discusses the militant Klan cell known as the Silver Dollar Group (SDG), SDG leader Red Glover and the challenges involved in investigating four-decade-old crimes.

Beauchamp says he studied more than 6,000 pages of FBI documents known as WHARBOM, the case file of the Jackson murder, in the making of the film.

The film includes archive footage of the Civil Rights movement in Natchez and footage of Jackson which had never been viewed before by his children.

Beauchamp produced a documentary a few years ago entitled, "The Untold Story of Emmett Till," about the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi. Since making that film, according to an ID press release, Beauchamp "has become passionate about seeking justice for these families and assisting the FBI by developing new leads for some of their unsolved cases..."

Filming for the show in Natchez was completed in September and October last year.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.