However, the lynch mob that murdered the men hid the bodies under a dam built on the property of one of the Klansmen, turning the crime into a missing persons story. And since two of the missing men were white, it became national news. For 44 days. For 44 whole days, a country speculated on the whereabouts of the three slain workers. What haunts my father as much as anything else that happened with the three workers is the fact that during the search, more bodies turned up. Slain black men, lynched by the Klan. Local Klan members and even J. Edgar Hoover, who in May stated that "outsiders" coming to Mississippi for Freedom Summer would not be protected by the FBI, fanned the flames of conspiracy, insinuating the three men were Communists who were either killed by their own or fled to Cuba. It seemed likely that the bodies would never be found.
If not for Dick Gregory
Dick Gregory was on a tour for "Ban he Bar" disarmament efforts traveling through Europe and Asia, and was in Moscow when he heard the news that Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were missing. He canceled the rest of his trip and was in Jackson, MS the same night. Once there, he immediately met with James Farmer, the head of CORE. Gregory, Farmer and a caravan of 16 cars headed to Philadelphia to try to find the men. Gregory, like everyone else, knew those men were dead. "They knew without a shadow of a doubt that they had been killed," Gregory said in a 1964 interview with Mississippi Eyewitness. Gregory’s caravan was stopped before being able to conduct a full search, but he was granted an audience with Sheriff Rainey. That’s what tipped Gregory off about the missing men. "I thought it was kind of strange that they would even see us," he continued to tell Mississippi Eyewitness. "Because no Mississippi law enforcement agency — no law enforcement agency in the world — would see anyone not connected with the case when they are in the middle of an investigation. So the fact that they would see us meant that they were afraid of something."