Frank Morris FBI Case Finds Suspect 47 Years Later

January 12, 2011 Updated: January 12, 2011

[xtypo_dropcap]L[/xtypo_dropcap]ouisiana’s Concordia Sentinel newspaper announced an alleged suspect Wednesday in the 1964 death of black businessman Frank Morris. Morris’s 1964 death due to arson of his shoe repair and goods shop is currently under FBI investigation. A Ferriday, La., businessman, Frank Morris ran a store for 30 years repairing shoes and selling clothes and other goods.

The Concordia Sentinel published a story which said that former Ku Klux Klan member Arthur Leonard Spencer’s son and former brother-in-law said Arthur told them he was involved in the arson that killed Frank Morris.

Spencer’s former wife also told the Sentinel that his alleged partner in committing the crime told her they set Morris’s shop on fire. When interviewed by the Sentinel, Spencer denied knowing anything about the arson or having any part in it.

In the middle of the night on Dec. 10, 1964, Morris's shop was set on fire while he was still inside. Morris suffered severe burns and died four days later at a hospital. He was 51. The FBI investigated his case at the time, but the case was never solved.

Morris’s death is one of 110 unsolved or never prosecuted civil rights era cold cases opened in 2002 by the FBI. The FBI said their investigation of the arson is ongoing, and released a response to the Concordia Sentinel’s allegations:

"We are aware of these allegations, but allegations alone are not proof. As with any case, the FBI is committed to a thorough investigation of all information we receive. The Frank Morris case remains an open investigation, and we encourage anyone with information to contact their local FBI field office."

At press deadline the NAACP had not responded to a request for comment.