Freedom Never Dies
program synopsis
florida terror
harry t. moore
teacher's guide
events map
The Legacy of Harry T. Moore
florida terror
lynchingsgrovelandkkk in floridawho killed harry t. moore


So who really killed Harry T. Moore? Was it Tillman Belvin, Earl Brooklyn, Joe Cox, Raymond Henry, Willis McCall, or someone else? Although there is no hard evidence linking him to the murder, Cox remains the most suspicious person in this story. Why would a man with no known financial or medical problems, who was running for public office (Orange County supervisor of elections), suddenly commit suicide one day after his second interview with the FBI, during which he kept asking if its evidence would hold up in court? And why would his fellow Klansman, Ed Spivey, come forward twenty-six years later, wanting to clear his conscience before he died, and finger Cox? One thing is certain: Spivey certainly didn't come forward out of any regard for Harry Moore; his primary concern, repeated over and over in his taped interview, was that the Klan was going to look bad, because, as he put it, "We didn't authorize it." He insisted that Cox had acted on his own, without Klan authorization.

Given all of the evidence, here is one likely scenario for Moore's death. If one accepts Spivey's contention that $5,000 (or even some amount approaching that) was paid to kill Moore, that kind of money would have likely come from prominent grove owners or businessmen concerned about Moore's growing political influence. It is a known fact that one such grove owner, the head of the Mims Citrus Exchange, had threatened Moore shortly before his death, saying that he was "putting notions in niggers' heads" and "his neck should be broken."

If this man, or others, were willing to put up the cash to take Moore out, who better to turn to than a "reputable" Klan official like Joe Cox, the secretary of the Orlando klavern, to arrange the killing. Cox may have been too old to be on the hit team himself, but could have easily recruited two or three younger "headknockers" to do it. Klan protocol dictated that only the immediate members of the hit team would know the actual details (to protect other members of the Klan), and they would have taken a blood oath of secrecy.

With the Moores living most of the year in Lake Park, it would have been a simple matter to case their house. In fact, their house was broken into in the month's before the bombing. That may have been the purpose of the two white men appeared in the Mims Confectionary Store, asking for directions.

The Klan barbeque near Sanford on Christmas Day provided the perfect alibi for the killing. The barbeque was held on Lake Jessup, east of Sanford, only a twenty minute drive to Mims. By a stroke of luck, the thick blanket of fog would have hidden their movements. Sometime after 9 p.m., a man driving down Old Dixie saw a car idling across the road from the Moore's driveway, with a white man behind the wheel. It may have been a getaway car. After the bombing, a sheriff's bloodhound tracked the bomber's footprints from the Moore's house to Old Dixie, where the tracks ended. The hit team could have planted the bomb, blown up the Moores, and been back at the Klan barbeque before anyone noticed their absence. The entire operation could have easily been done in less than an hour.

Program Synopsis | Timeline | Florida Terror | Harry T. Moore | Teacher's Guide | Resources | Events Maps | Main Page
©2000 Copyright. The Documentary Institute.