MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDHN) — The last surviving man responsible for murdering four girls during the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church is now dead.
According to Gov. Kay Ivey, Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. died from natural causes while serving a life sentence in the deaths of Addie Mae Collins, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14.
“His role in the hateful act on September 15, 1963 stole the lives of four innocent girls and injured many others,” Ivey said. “That was a dark day that will never be forgotten in both Alabama’s history and that of our nation.”
Blanton worked with fellow Klan members Robert Chambliss, Bobby Frank Cherry, and Herman Cash to commit the terrorist act. An FBI investigation found that all four were involved, but the prosecution was blocked by then-director J. Edgar Hoover.
Efforts to prosecute the men spanned several decades.
Ivey said that she prays for everyone involved that Alabama will continue to move forward and make a better future.
“Let us never forget that Sunday morning in September of 1963 and the four young ladies whose lives ended far too soon, but let us continue taking steps forward to heal, do better and honor those who sacrificed everything for Alabama and our nation to be a home of opportunity for all,” she said.