Warning, the following story includes a description of racial violence.

On January 23, 1957, Willie Edwards Jr. was eating dinner with his family in Montgomery, Alabama when he got a call from his boss at the Winn-Dixie asking if he could cover a shift for another driver. He left his two small daughters and pregnant wife at home that evening and never made it back…

Years later a former Klansman said that he and other Ku Klux Klan members pulled Edwards out of his truck at gunpoint, beat him and brought him to a high bridge over the Alabama River. They told Edwards to jump… or they’d shoot him. He jumped. 

Willie Edwards Jr. Courtesy of the participants

His daughter, Malinda Edwards was just three years old at the time. With StoryCorps, she told her sister Mildred Betts about the moment she learned what happened to their father. 

Top Photo: Malinda Edwards and Mildred Betts. Courtesy of the participants.

This story was produced in collaboration with the PBS series FRONTLINE as part of Un(re)solved — a major initiative documenting the federal effort to investigate more than 150 cold case murders dating back to the civil rights era. More such stories can be explored in an interactive documentary at Un(re)solved.

Originally aired June 4th, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.