Two Region 8 Deaths May be among Decades-Old Cold Civil Rights Cases Revisited by FBI

FEBRUARY 27, 2007 - Posted at 3:51 p.m. CST

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says people who committed civil rights-era crimes "have not gotten away with anything."

The Justice Department is continuing its push to crack cold cases from that era, with the FBI re-opening probes of about a dozen suspicious deaths.

FBI director Robert Mueller says there are up to 12 high-priority cases among about 100 that investigators are looking at as possible civil rights-related murders.

Officials aren't giving details but do say nearly all are located in Southern states.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, two of those cases are centered in Crittenden County, including the case of Andrew Lee Anderson of Marion.  "Anderson was slain by a group of whites and sheriff's deputies after a white woman said he had molested her 8-year-old daughter.  A coroner's jury ruled justifiable homicide, and no arrests were made," according to the SPLC.

The other case is that of Isadore Banks, also of Marion.  "Banks' charred corpse was found chained to a tree.  Black press reports speculated he was killed by whites who wanted his land.  His property was later rented by white farmers," according to a statement from the SPLC.

Mueller says advances in technology are helping move the cases along, and that some witnesses are no longer afraid to come forward.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)