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April 17th, 2006

A Different Kind of Cold Case from 1946

An unsolved lynching case is being looked at again. Roger and Dorothy Malcom, 24 and 20 years old, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey, 28 and 23, were murdered on July 25, 1946, in Monroe, Georgia, 11 days after Roger Malcom stabbed a white man who he believed was sleeping with his wife. The man lived. The Malcoms and the Dorseys were driving back from the jail after Roger was let on on bail, when a mob stopped them and dragged them near a bridge over the Apalachee River and then shot them more than 60 times. The white farmer who was driving them was not murdered.

According to a a recent AP story: “FBI headquarters and the Department of Justice asked us to take another look at the case,” said agent Steve Lazarus, a spokesman with the FBI’s Atlanta office.

Last year, in an AP article, “District Attorney Ken Wynne, who says he will not seek indictments unless new evidence is presented. He points to a 2001 investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that did not unearth any new evidence. GBI officials, however, say they consider the case open.”

In the same piece they quote a woman on the street in Monroe. “Leave those poor people alone,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “They’re all dead.” I wonder which poor people she means?

Not surprisingly, at the time of the murders, people in the town would not cooperate with the investigation. To explain why they were not helping, Mrs. G. E. Ozburn wrote the Atlanta Journal, “After all, we are a populace of God-fearing people doing our best to practice a high standard of living, day in, day out, in a town and country we love with all our hearts. We are not a pack of bloodhound assigned to help the G.B.I, the F.B.I, what have you, to track down clues and murderers.” She says they have “no experience for chasing killers.”

A recent book about the murderers: Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America by Laura Wexler.

A friend of mine, Philip Dray, wrote an excellent book about the subject in general: At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America.

The Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee, Inc. [this website has since been taken down] was created in honor of the four victims.

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