A Deep South Cold Case Goes Frigid

Since Catherine Walker Jones received word last November that the Department of Justice had given up on solving the 1964 racial murder of her father, Clifton Walker, I’ve been raising questions about the FBIs present-day investigation and its treatment of the Walker family.

Now, on Narratively, I take a deep look at the anatomy of the FBIs failure to properly investigate the Clifton Walker murder case.

The last person to investigate the Walker case was special agent Bradley Hentschel, at least the third agent on the case since it was reopened. Hentschel was assigned to the case in the spring of 2011, when he was twenty-five years old and had been employed as a special agent for less than a year.

For its part, the FBI contends that decades-old cold cases are among the most difficult an agent can be assigned. As the Department of Justice has noted to Congress: Subjects die; witnesses die or can no longer be located; memories become clouded; evidence is destroyed or cannot be located; and original investigations lacked the technical and scientific advances relied upon today.”

All true, surely — but it was hard for Hentschel to even get the authorization and resources needed in order to conduct the most basic investigative activities in the field.

I do not want to close this case,” Hentschel said during a telephone interview in 2011, but if I can’t develop any further leads…it’s going to be a hard sell to the DOJ, to even my supervisor, that I need to be running around two, two and a half hours away from the office with the gas budget the way that it is and everything else, beating down leads on this case or on any other case where we don’t have any active information coming in.”

Get the full story on Narratively.

The video introducing this post and featured with the Narratively article was edited by Clarence Smith, Jr., aka, BOLD Edition.

August 30, 2014