Summary of the 1978 reopening of the Moore case
In December 1977, on the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Moore bombing, nearly 500 people gathered in Mims for the "Harry T. Moore Pilgrimage," sponsored by the Florida NAACP. The keynote speaker, NAACP Executive Secretary Dr. Benjamin Hooks, called for a reopening of the case. As a result of the extensive press coverage of the pilgrimage, the Brevard County sheriff reopened the case in January, 1978, and called for anyone with information about the case to come forward.
"I Know Who Did It"
One week later, the phone rang. "I know who did it," said the intoxicated man on the other end. The caller was seventy-year-old Edward Spivey, a dyed-in-the-wool Klansman who was terminally ill and wanted to clear his conscience before he died. In an interview at his home, which investigators secretly record, Spivey claimed that in 1952, shortly after the Moore bombing, a fellow Klansman named Joseph Neville Cox, the secretary of the Orlando klavern, told Spivey that he had been paid $5,000 to kill Harry T. Moore. Just a few days after this admission, Cox committed suicide.
When Brevard County investigators began checking out Spivey's story, they found some startling corroboration: Cox' death certificate showed that he had, in fact, committed suicide in March 1952, only one day after his second interview with FBI agents investigating the Moore bombing. During that interview, Cox had repeatedly asked if the FBI had any evidence that would hold up in court. The next day, he killed himself. [View Cox Interview]
FBI agents had talked to the local police chief, who reported that Cox had no known medical or financial problems and that his family had no explanation for his death. At that point in the investigation, however, FBI agents were so focused on other suspects, particularly Earl Brooklyn and Tillman Belvin, that they let it drop. Cox was an older man, sixty-one at the time, and the FBI was zeroing in on younger Klan "head-knockers." Today, with the hindsight of Spivey's 1978 confession, that was clearly a major blunder.
Although Cox had been dead for 26 years, Brevard County investigators repeatedly tried to convince Ed Spivey to testify before a grand jury, but he adamantly refused. When he died several months later, his story was filed away.
Two months after Spivey's phone call, another drunken white man confessed to making the bomb that killed the Moores. Raymond Henry Jr., a house painter with a long arrest record for public drunkenness, made this startling confession to a NAACP leader from Vero Beach and two local police officers, who tape recorded his statement. Henry claimed he had made the bomb at the behest of the Ku Klux Klan, and that two local law officers had been on the hit squad. The next day, he gave a written statement to FBI agents which greatly expanded on his original story and added a host of provocative details, including a claim that the St. Lucie County sheriff and a Brevard County deputy had also participated. Most sensational of all, Henry claimed that the entire Moore bombing had been bankrolled by Sheriff Willis McCall.
Henry agreed to go to Brevard County and meet with Investigator Buzzy Patterson, but never showed. As suddenly as he had appeared, Raymond Henry vanished without a trace.
Shortly thereafter, the Brevard County sheriff closed the Moore case.