The two friends, a sawmill worker and a college student, were 19 when they disappeared in May 1964, last seen hitchhiking on the highway near Meadville, Miss. They were beaten and drowned by Klansman who mistakenly believed the two were involved in plotting an armed uprising. Two months later, on July 12, a fisherman spotted the torso of Moore in a Mississippi River backwater called the Old River. Dee was found the next day.
At the time, an extensive search was under way for three civil rights workers, two of whom were white New Yorkers, who had disappeared in the opposite end of the state in what became known as the "Mississippi Burning"case. The initial classification of Moore's body as that of a Caucasian male, and thus potentially one of the missing rights workers, caused a spurt of media coverage.