Interview with Ernest Gilbert for "20/20" May 2000
The "20/20" report "Justice at Last," which aired in June 2000, investigated the unsolved 1964 slayings of two young black men -- Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore -- in Mississippi.
Six-and-a-half years later, a federal grand jury has indicted a reputed former Klansman for kidnapping with the aggravating circumstance of murder in the deaths. James Ford Seale, 71, pleaded not guilty this week to the crimes.
The following is a transcript of a "20/20" interview with Ernest Gilbert, the former FBI informant whose information helped shed light on a civil rights murder case that had gone cold.
Part 1 of 2
20/20: Mr. Gilbert, were you a member of the KKK in the nineteen Sixties?
GILBERT: Yes, I was.
20/20: Did you hold a leadership position in the Ku Klux Klan?
GILBERT: I held several leadership positions in the Klan.
20/20: Were you elected to a leadership position in the Klan?
GILBERT: Yes, I was.
20/20: What were you?
GILBERT: Well… I was… the state… national organizer for the Klan. Uh, I started out uh… I had got involved in the Klan when I lived in Brookhaven, Mississippi. And uh… that was… the first Klan I belonged to was the old, original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
20/20: The original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan?
GILBERT: The old, original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The gentleman that headed that up, I don't know his name, but he lived across the river from Natchez in Louisiana.
20/20: Tell me, did you, did you believe what the Klan believed in… at that time?
GILBERT: I'm not sure that I… I have never believed in cold-blooded murder. I never believed in burning churches, that's God's house. There are so many things that the Klan did after I got involved in it that I did not approve of. And, the Klan itself, it didn't make any difference what position you held. There was this little group, and this little group, and another group, and all of them did what they wanted to do and they didn't answer to anybody. And there were many, many good people in the Klan that… abhors the violence that took place. Including me. I, I mean, I never once thought about going out and killing somebody, burning their house, or anything like that. It was, in the beginning it was supposed to be a political organization to elect officials to try and stop the Civil Rights Movement. Now that's what, uh, it was told to me what we was going to do when I first got in it.
20/20: But, did it change? Did it become --?
GILBERT: It changed --
20/20: Did the Klan, did the --?
GILBERT: It changed drastically.
20/20: I'm sorry, I interrupted you. Let me ask you then, did, did the Klan, did the Klan then, did the Klan become violent?
GILBERT: Yes. It became violent. Very, very violent. But it was only one-tenth of one percent of the Klan membership. And uh, the violence that came out of Natchez, Mississippi was not supposed to be that kind of things take place in the organization.
20/20: All right. Let me, let me follow on. Did you have, did you have a job with the Klan? A specific job? Were you the recruiter?
GILBERT: I was uh… I was elected as the organizer, state organizer of the Ku Klux Klan.
20/20: In Mississippi.
GILBERT: In Mississippi. Now, to bring you up to date on history of the Klan. Uh, I joined the original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan as I told you. The people in the state of Mississippi said they were not going to pay dues to a man in Louisiana. We had a gathering of the Klan, and formed the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of the state of Mississippi.
20/20: You were a member of the White Knights of the K.K.K. in Mississippi.
GILBERT: Absolutely. In other words, I was there every minute. We had lawyers, and some of them out of the state capitol.
20/20: Were there members --
GILBERT: Maybe I shouldn't say that. [BACKGROUND VOICES] They came and helped us set this thing up as a organization and, and it was thoroughly organization. And nobody but nobody was supposed to do any kind of violence that wasn't approved by the top officials. And I was the top official at that time.
20/20: You were the head of the White Knights of the K.K.K. in Mississippi?
GILBERT: For, for a certain length of time, when it first came into being they elected me as the head. I was in the bed with pneumonia. And they elected me, uh, without me being there.
20/20: Were you the Imperial Wizard of the K.K.K.?
GILBERT: Beg your pardon?
20/20: Were you elected, were you elected to the position, were you elected to the position of Imperial Wizard?
GILBERT: Imperial Wizard.
20/20:That was your title?
GILBERT: In the White Knights. Okay… When things started… falling apart--
20/20: What do you mean, "falling apart"?
GILBERT: People doing little, this little group and that little group, everybody doing their own thing. Nobody was, uh, uh, had to answer to anybody. And this is when… uh, these two kids… and this is about them, not about me, and not about the Klan. This is, this is for those two kids that were murdered. I knew about it after the fact. They came to me and told me all the gory details of it, and I ask them, "Why in the hell are you telling me this?"
20/20: What did you, what did they say?
GILBERT: They said, "Well, if anything ever comes of it, and, and, we want you to know so you can protect us." So, anyhow --
20/20: Okay, why don't we get to that in a minute. We'll uh, we'll just do a little more of the general. Okay, the general stuff.
20/20: Were you, did you recruit, did you recruit law enforcement officers as part of the Klan?
GILBERT: Yes, I did. But I'm not going to call any of them's name.
20/20: That's fine. Did you recruit Sheriff's Deputies?
GILBERT: Yes, I did. And Sheriffs.
20/20: [OVERLAP] Police officers?
GILBERT: And Sheriffs, and police officers.
20/20: And Sheriffs?
20/20: Did you recruit… Well, let me start again. Did you recruit Sheriff's Deputies?
GILBERT: Yes, I did.
20/20: Sheriff's themselves?
GILBERT: Yes, I did.
20/20: Did you recruit police officers?
20/20: Highway patrol officers?
20/20: And they all secretly belonged to the Klan?
GILBERT: They secretly belonged to the Klan. They… there wasn't ten members, as big as the Klan was, that knew who they were.
20/20: Did these law enforcement officers discriminate against certain people?
GILBERT: No, they did not. I don't know of any case where it… yes, I do. I do. I am well up to date on a case that happened. And you know where it happened. Uh, there were two other people killed and… and uh, murdered… and uh, yes… uh… the law enforcement knew about that. I don't think they had anything whatsoever to do with it. But they did not do anything about it.
20/20: Are you talking about the so-called "Mississippi Burning" case?
GILBERT: I don't know. I don't know what, I never watched the Mississippi Burning case. I don't even know what it's about.
20/20: [OVERLAP] Okay. All right. There were three civil rights workers who were killed.
GILBERT: Yeah, and they buried them in a pond dam.
20/20: And those three young men, um… no one was brought to justice regarding those three men.
GILBERT: I don't think anybody's ever been brought to justice about any of it, tell you the truth… Me included.
20/20: Are you saying when those three men were killed that there were members of law enforcement who didn't try to find the killers because they were members of the Klan?
GILBERT: I absolutely believe that. But, I don't want any names. This is not about… what was in the past. Some of the people have repented, some of them are trying to live it down just like I am. Some of the people wish to God they'd never known anything about it. And I'm talking about law enforcement, I'm talking about… the whole body that made up the Klan.
GILBERT: There are so many people today that wish to God they had never been involved in it. It was… the time and the atmosphere at that time that actually created it. And I'ma say this, and I may get shot for saying this: I blame this whole thing on the government of the United States and the state government. All those black people wanted was the right to vote. Why in the hell couldn't they give it to them? Why did they have to march? And, why did they have to go through all this Hell to try to get, uh… what they deserved all along? And… [CLEARS THROAT] they didn't ask to come to this country. They were brought here as slaves. They were bought and sold, and they were used. And they have been used since Day One. They are just as much American citizens as I am.
20/20: Do you honestly believe that?
GILBERT: Yes, I believe that. I have always believed that. They can't help if they're black. God, made them black, I didn't. He made me white, I don't know why. He made the Indian red, and look what we did to him. This is their land, it's not ours. God it gave it to them. He created this earth, he created every living thing that, that, man can ever… comprehend or fathom. And they came here and they butchered him. They took his land away from him, and look where they are now. Why in the Hell don't they free them and let them be free Americans?
20/20: Yes, sir. When you were a member of the Klan, you initially joined it because you thought that the mission was a valid mission.
GILBERT: I did. Yes, I did.
20/20: Because it was part of the times.
GILBERT: It was… you'd have to have lived through those times, in the South. You know, a way of life certainly came head-on to another way of life, to the people in the South. And… it didn't make any difference who you were, or what, the people of the South are kind, gentle, and good people. And, this group… of outlaws… that's all I know how to call them, "outlaws" --
GILBERT: They was outlaws to the Klan, they were outlaws to the people that committed these atrocities against blacks.
20/20: You mean the agitators. The aggressive ones within the Klan.
GILBERT: And… there's some high officials, and, that was in the Klan. And another Klan which I… ended up in it, they were in it for the money. The leaders were. All they were interested in was the money. One of them, the, the head leader of it told… me and her, one night at a Klan rally, that… I told him, I said, "Jason, not very people here, you're not going to get very much money tonight." He, he stood there and looked me in the face and he said, "I'll get their money if I have to shed a few tears."
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] And that, that person was not from the state of Mississippi. I will not call his name, but, he headed up one of the largest Klan organizations that ever existed. And uh [INAUDIBLE].
20/20: Okay. There were obviously members of the White Knights of the K.K.K. who were not activists and not aggressive.
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] Absolutely.
20/20: But, the ones who, the members of the White Knights of the K.K.K. who were aggressive, what did they believe in? Did they have hate within them?
GILBERT: Okay, I'm not going to call any names, but let me, let me --
20/20: [OVERLAP] Give me general, their ideology. What was, what, who did they hate?
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] There was… there was one… member who was involved in all of this butchery and, and chaos that went on. And I, uh… let me tell you something. Hitler was a child compared to his beliefs and what he wanted to do. And he is the granddaddy of why I'm here. Now… there was not only him but there was several. Uh, four or five of them that were scary.
20/20: [OVERLAP] You're saying that these people were worse than Hitler?
GILBERT: Absolutely. They had no feeling for no black person, no other person that got in their way. No Klan member or nothing else. They just were evil… as evil -- they were possessed by evil. I'm talking about totally possessed by evil. And they had found something that they could get involved in that, that, that, uh, that they could go out and do what they wanted to do and, and nobody could stop them.
20/20: Did you believe in violence as a means to achieve the aims of the K.K.K.?
GILBERT: I never… look, after, after this fiasco that took place in, in, in Natchez, Mississippi… uh… I… I don't know, it, it, it brought something on me that… it brought me to the full realization of what was going on. [05;16;32;02] Up until that time, I was working and… and trying to make a living, and… and trying to be involved in this. And… it suddenly, when I found out what had happened on this particular thing that we're on now --
20/20: To the two boys.
GILBERT:I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I was beginning… to die. Well, I did die inside. And I couldn't live with it. I could not live with any, any longer. So, what could I do? I'm gonna book [PH] people like that? They would've hesitated not one second to blow my head off with a shotgun… which I probably deserved for being… where I was but, anyhow…
20/20: Yeah, go ahead.
GILBERT: Anyhow, I didn't have but one choice. I couldn't go to the local law enforcement… because I knew where, who they were and, the ones that I knew and, what they were. I couldn't go to the state… because I, I didn't know… I, I didn't know really how it would be taken by the state. And --
20/20: [OVERLAP] Where did you go?
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] There was a, there was an FBI agent that had questioned me several times. They questioned just about everybody that was in the Klan. And I can't call his name, but he, he was r -- uh… the agent in, in the area where I lived at that time. So… I called him and I asked him if he would meet me somewhere. And he did. And I told him. You know, I said, "I'm pretty sure that… that I'm not going to live through this because when I tell you what I'm going to tell you, uh… the Federal Bureau of Investigation is going to have to act on this. And… I think I'm… picked out as the only one that's going to do anything about this that knows anything about it. I wasn't involved in it. I'm not -- this is what I was told." And I related to him what I was told… by those people who committed this… this. So, I told him… exactly what I had been told. And… I told him… how terribly abused those kids were abused awful. And beaten and, and they begged for their lives. I was told all of this. And then… they were taken to the Mississippi River, weights were tied on them, and they were thrown in the river alive.
GILBERT: Alive. They were still alive when it happened… Or so I was told. Because they were still begging for their lives. And uh --
20/20: When you were told that they were thrown in the river still alive--
GILBERT:Yes, I was.
20/20: What did you think?
GILBERT: What would you think, as a human being? You know I… I've been to war, in World War Two… I've seen some terrible things. ] I've seen hundreds of uh… of Marines… I had to crawl… [SNEEZES] [PAUSES] [SIGHS]
GILBERT: [SNIFFS] [CLEARS THROAT] … I crawled through their dead bodies to fight… the Japs, on… when we made the invasion on Guam. And, uh--
20/20: So, you've been through a war… and you know what it's like. When you were told, when you were told by other Klan members that those two young men, Charles Moore and, and Henry Dee were still alive when they were thrown in the river… how did you react to that?
GILBERT: [SIGHS] [SNIFFS] Like I said, I lost my mind. I lost my soul.
20/20: You lost your mind… and soul. Why?
GILBERT: I couldn't, I couldn't think. I couldn't eat. And I finally decided that something had to be done. And I did what I told you.
20/20: You went to the FBI.
GILBERT: [SNIFFS] Because there was no one else I could turn to.
20/20: You secretly told the FBI who had killed those two boys.
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] I told, I told them… what… the people that came to me and told me, uh, I told them exactly what they told me because they gave me all the gory details of the thing. And, uh… if I uh… I, I wish to God I had never known about this. I really do. [SNIFFS].
20/20: Okay. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] [BACKGROUND NOISE]
GILBERT: But… somebody had to do something.
20/20: Uh-huh. [INAUDIBLE] Okay.
GILBERT: And, I do, I honestly believe that… that by going and reporting this to the people I reported it to… about the brutal murder of these two young boys. And… the horrible way in which they had to die. Dying of the battlefield is one thing, but dying like that was no… I think that's… I, I can't imagine anybody that could commit that kind of atrocities. [SNIFFS] But, uh…
20/20: You know what?
GILBERT: I helped… the Federal Bureau of Investigation bring the Klan down.
20/20: You did?
GILBERT: I didn't, I didn't have anything to do with it. The Federal Bureau of Investigation brought the Klan down.
20/20: How did you help the FBI bring the Klan down?
GILBERT: I went uh, when I went to them, I, I wanted to get out of it and they told me, "No. You're going to stay in it." And --
20/20: So you became an informant.
GILBERT: Yes, absolutely. And uh --
20/20: Do you honestly believe, do you believe that you helped the government bring the Klan down?
GILBERT: Yes, I do. I don't think it, I don't think anybody would have ever known what really happened… uh, uh… what, who did it… if I hadn't a gone.
GILBERT: Now, I honestly believe that. And… now, let me tell you something. I'm not going to mention any names, but there were millionaires in the Klan. There sons were in the Klan; their daughters were in the Klan. I'm talking about people that had enough money to… to buy this state with… in cash. And… I think that maybe… you know, I don't who to blame. I blame me for being in it.
20/20: For being in the Klan?
GILBERT: Yes, I blame me for even being involved in it. I didn't have to get involved in it. I, didn't nobody hold a gun to my head and make me… become involved in it. But, the place where I lived at that time, everybody else was in it. And uh… I was encouraged to join it, you know.
20/20: So are you saying you --
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] And I wish to Hell I hadn't. I would give… the rest of the years of my life, if I could, to go back… and change it.
20/20: And never to have joined the Klan. Is that what you're saying?
GILBERT: Let, let me say this to the young people of this country. I don't care what color you are. I doesn't make any difference what color you are. If you in the Klan, get out of it. It's only going to ruin your life. And I say to anybody that's in the Klan today, you don't know what the hell you're doing. You're being deceived by… Satan; you're being deceived by everything that's wrong in our country. Uh, there's peace in our country today. That's what I told the man that came to me about this interview. I told him, "I'm not, uh, I don't want to be involved in this. Nobody is killing anybody. Let's let it die." And if he'll tell the truth, he'll tell you that's exactly what I told him. But he wouldn't let it die. He told me, "I'm going to do this. I've got enough information, I'm going to do this with or without you." And the one thing that he said to me that really pissed me off --
GILBERT: -- is, "I'm going to make you a hero." Let me tell you something. The only heroes that ever existed died in all of the wars that took place to make us free people. That's the only heroes that's ever existed in the United States.
20/20: But your, your wife, and your daughter think you're a hero for coming forward.
GILBERT: [SNIFFS] No. No, no, no, no. I am, I am not… don't… applaud me for coming forward. I shouldn't a been there in the beginning. You make a mistake, you have to bear it for the rest of your life. I don't care who you are.
20/20: What was the mistake you made?
GILBERT: By ever getting in the Klan. That's, that's the mistake of my life. And, if the young, if any young people see this, let me tell you something. It's not glamorous. It's not gonna glorify you. It's not gonna help you any at all. At the end of your life, you're going to look back and say, "I could've… joined a church. I could've gone out and, and helped people." [COUGHS] But it's too late. It's way too late. [SNIFFS] If you get in this thing, and you have to live with it, what do you go back to to start over. There is no place.
20/20: Is that what you feel you've been doing for the last thirty some years? Been living with something that you would very much like to… change?
GILBERT: I wish I had never… If I could my life was to go over I'd… I would never have been a Klan member. If I could relive my life I wouldn't bear this burden that I have. And believe me, whoever you are, wherever you are, if you belong to it now… you don't know what it is that you want in life. But it's not where you're at. I… let me make that plain. You're in the wrong place to get where you want to go in life.
20/20: Okay. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]
20/20: Mr. Gilbert, we're going back a little bit. It, Mr. Gilbert, it has been more than thirty years since… it's been more than… it has been more than thirty since Charles Moore and Henry Dee were killed. Do you know who killed Charles Moore and Henry Dee?
GILBERT: I was told. I wasn't there. But… I was told that they were the ones that did it. Now, I'm not going to… give out any names here. I, I didn't come here for that.
20/20: Were the --
GILBERT: You can get all that information from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act.
GILBERT: And, you can get all their names or whatever. And you can go to the FBI and get the full details of…
GILBERT: Of what I said and what I did… because I… You know…
20/20: Tell me this. Mr. Gilbert, were the killers of Charles Moore and Henry Dee members of the K.K.K.?
GILBERT: Yes, they were.
20/20: Every one of them.
GILBERT: Every one of them.
20/20: Were there five of them?
GILBERT: … I'm not sure about that, now, because --
GILBERT: -- uh… I'm really, I can't say for a fact how many there was.
20/20: All right. Well let me go, let me just say this, then. Mr. Gilbert, were the killers, were the killers of Charles Moore and Henry Dee White Knights of the K.K.K.?
GILBERT: Yes, they were.
20/20: Every single one of them?
20/20: Were, did you, when you found out the names of those who killed Charles Moore and Henry Dee, did you go to the FBI and give the FBI those names?
GILBERT: Uh… sometime later because I couldn't live with it. I had to do something. I couldn't trust… I didn't want to trust. Let me put it this way -- I didn't want to trust any local, or state official.
20/20: So you went to the FBI.
GILBERT: And I figured the only people that… might be able to protect me and my life, and, and, protect… uh… whatever, I would have to go to the, to the FBI to get it done. And, that's what I did. And it brought the Klan down.
20/20: You believe that your information brought the K.K.K. down?
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] I believe that the FBI, with the information I gave them, brought the Klan down.
20/20: In Mississippi.
GILBERT: In Mississippi.
20/20: Mr. Gilbert, how did you find out who killed Moore and Dee?
GILBERT: I was told by the members who committed the act.
20/20: Ernest Parker and Jack Seal?
GILBERT: I, I am not going to use any names. Uh, this is an agreement I had with… I'm not going to use any names but, I won't even confirm or deny that on camera, or on this interview. But I will be glad to talk to you off camera… about it. Uh…
20/20: Well, let me, let me say this. According, according to FBI documents, Ernest -- according to FBI documents, Ernest Parker and Jack Seal came to you and described exactly what happened.
GILBERT: Well, if that's what they have I said, I, uh, I'm sure it's true.
20/20: It was the summer of 1964. Can you tell me what those two gentlemen told you… about what happened?
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] They told me the whole gory details of what happened with, you know I've already told you… what happened.
20/20: Can you, can you go through it again for me because I think we need to take it a little bit, step-by-step. Okay? Tell me, tell me what happened? How did, how did Henry Moore and Charles -- how did Charles Moore and Henry Dee… uh, come upon Ernest uh -- the uh… who was it first? Forgive me. It was… but just let me uh, get a little confused… James, James Ford Seal, right? It was James Ford Seal who picked them up, right?
GILBERT: I was --
20/20: Yeah. Okay. Uh, let's go back. James Ford Seal was driving. He picked up Henry Dee and Charles Moore. Is that correct?
GILBERT: That's what I understand.
20/20: And what did he do? Do you know what happened?
GILBERT: I have no idea other than they were… kidnapped. And they were taken to a certain place. I wasn't told exactly where it was.
20/20: The Homachita [PH] National Forest.
20/20: The Homachita National Forest.
GILBERT: I have no idea where they took 'em.
GILBERT: But they beat them to… unmerciful with sticks. And to the point of… where they thought they were dead. And they were begging for their lives. All of this time. I mean, two kids that, that, never was involved in any Civil Rights Movement, they never was involved in any violence. I mean, uh…
20/20: Why were they targeted?
GILBERT: Completely, and two totally innocent people. That's what this story is about, is about them, and, and their… the way they were treated and what happened to them by a group of thugs. It had used… uh… the Ku Klux Klan as a cover. That… how else can you put this? I'm talking about… evil people…… Who, who, what kind of, what kind of heart do you have to, to take a young person and just because they're a different color than you and go out and brutalize them and beat 'em to death, and then sink 'em in the river? And them still alive? How can you, how can you con -- how can you imagine that?
20/20: Is that exactly what happened?
GILBERT: That's what I was told had happened. Exactly.
20/20: When um…
GILBERT: I wasn't there. I knew about this after the fact. I did go the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and told 'em what I knew. And the rest of it is… you can… pick it up anywhere. Uh, out of… FBI files or whatever. Or, so I'm told. That's what Larry told me that the FBI gave him… uh, the first interview that --
20/20: Okay. According, according to F.B., according to FBI documents it was, according to FBI documents it was James Ford Seal, Charles Marcus Edwards, and Clyde Seal who beat up those two young boys.
GILBERT: They murdered those two young boys. Cold-blooded murder.
20/20: For what reason? Why?
GILBERT: I have no idea. That's why I'm here. That's why the world… uh, this nation needs to know about this. And the young people of this country need to know about this and stay to hell away from anybody that's got some kind of deal going to… bring somebody else down. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]
GILBERT: That, that is the sole purpose of this meeting. Not me, I'm a noth—nobody from nowhere. It, this doesn't, this doesn't concern me. It concerns right and wrong. It, it concerns Satan and God. The difference between totally, total evil, and… Jesus Christ, who died for all of us. That's what it is, this about.
20/20: Mr. Gilbert, according to the FBI documents, according to what you told the FBI back then in the Nineteen Sixties, it was James Ford Seale, Charles Marcus Edwards, and Clyde Seal who beat up Charles Moore and Henry Dee. And then it was Ernest Parker and Jack Seal who then picked up their bodies and took them -- who then picked up their bodies and then took them and dumped them in the river.
GILBERT: Well, I'm not, that part of it, now, I'm not sure about. I don't, I wasn't told who, who really… did the carrying and dumping their bodies. Uh, I, I don't recall anything about that. But, I was told where they put 'em.
20/20: Were -- can I, can I confirm with, can you tell me, were the five individuals involved -- James Ford Seal, Charles Marcus Edwards, Clyde Seal, Jack Seal, and uh… forgive me, all of a sudden I'm forgetting -- [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]
20/20: -- And, and Ernest Parker. Were those the five men?
GILBERT: If the FBI says it's true, then it's true. Those were the five men.
20/20: According to the FBI documents, according to FBI documents, you told the FBI that those were the five men involved in the Moore and Dee murders.
GILBERT: Well, I'll say again, I, I hope the FBI ain't turned into liars, you know. I mean, I, I think they pretty well tell the truth… when they tell you anything. There's very little they tell you. They almost as bad as the Klan, try to get you killed [LAUGHS].
20/20: Now, do you know what happened after, after, after Dee and Moore were beaten up, what happened to them? After Dee and Moore were beaten, what happened to them? Were they still alive?
GILBERT: Were they what? They were still alive uh… so I was told. Did the, did the Klan members think that they were dead?
GILBERT: I don't know. They, they didn't relate that to me. Uh, somebody here recently said that… that they got, heard it somewhere that one, one of the… people [COUGHS] that was involved in taking them to the river and dumping them in the river said when they uh, opened… evidently, they was in the trunk of a car, I don't know where they were, what they took them in. They said, "I can't believe they're still alive."
20/20: Because --
GILBERT: That was something that came to me. I'm not… I wasn't told that, now. That part of it had to come from somebody else, not me. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]
20/20: When the… now, how, after, after Moore and Dee were beaten, they were taken to the river, correct?
GILBERT: Right. That's what I was told.
20/20: And what happened to them? What happened to their bodies? Were they still alive?
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] They had weights tied to them, and they were thrown in the river.
20/20: Do you know specifically, was, was a Jeep, was a Jeep engine?
GILBERT: I don't know specifically because I wasn't there, but that, that did come up… that, that it was uh… I'm not sure that they told me that. I know that… I, uh… I don't know where that came in from.
GILBERT: I'm, I'm not sure about that.
GILBERT: And it was confirmed after they found them that they, it was… a Jeep motor block. I know that because uh… I think that's in the files, ain't it, Harry? [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]
20/20: Mr. Gilbert, did the killers confess to you?
GILBERT: Did what?
20/20: Did the killers confess to you?
GILBERT: Well, I don't know -- they certainly told me this. I, I guess, I don't know why. Uh, I mean, I'm not sure where you should call it a confession, or uh… or a… ask for help. Or, or uh… I'm not sure why they told me. This has always bothered me. Why? And, and their only excuse was that if this ever comes to light we're going to need somebody to, to know what happened to protect us. And… I think that's the words they put it in. And uh --
20/20: Do you know that… did the killers, did the killers just simply sit you down and tell you everything?
GILBERT: I don't know if they told me everything or not --
20/20: Okay, well I shouldn't put it that way.
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] I, I'm not sure about that now.
20/20: [OVERLAP] Okay. Then let me, actually, the killers confessed to you, didn't they?
GILBERT: What they told me, I guess you, you'd have to call that a confession, yes.
20/20: Do you know why they confessed to you?
GILBERT: That's, that's been the mystery of this ever since the day that it happened. Why would they tell me? That's what I asked them, "Why in the hell are you telling me this?" I didn't want, I should've never known anything about it… in the first place. And, they never should've done it in the first place. And I certainly, why me? Why would a --? I don't know.
20/20: Mr. Gilbert, when you discovered, when they told you that they had throw the bodies into the river and, and the two men weren't even dead, when they, when they told you that they'd throw those --
GILBERT: No --
20/20: When they told you that they threw those two men in the river --
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] They didn't tell, they didn't tell me they threw them in there alive. That, that didn't, if that, if that's the question, they didn't say anything about whether they was alive or dead or dead or what. Now that I don't, I don't know where that came from.
20/20: [OVERLAP] No. Yes. Do you remember? No, I think you did because according to the documents you said you were sickened by it.
GILBERT: Well, wouldn't you be sickened? I mean, I don't know how else to put it -- shocked? Dismayed? Completely unable to believe what was told? I mean… I'm a human being. I'm not much. I never, I don't deserve any credit for anything I've ever done in my life. I'm no hero. I'm just a plain old… man that, that lived and been involved in things he shouldn't have been involved in at all. And, now at the end of my life, [CHUCKLES] I mean… I don't… why is this… this is probably the, the, the climax of my life, right here. And, and the most hideous damn thing that anybody could think of. Now that's not very much of a legacy to leave your grandchildren.
20/20: But you're coming forward thirty years later with information --
GILBERT: I came forward right after it happened… to the, to the proper authorities. And they… they have protected me --
20/20: [OVERLAP] And only two people --
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] -- all of this time. And they still are willing to protect me. But… it, you know, they can't protect from you. There's no way they can do that.
20/20: Mr. Gilbert, when you told the FBI about these killers, two men were arrested. But no one was ever convicted. No one served a day in prison --
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] Not that I know anything about. Ah… you know, that's a mystery to me. There wasn't --
20/20: Do you know, do you know why the two men who are arrested, James Ford Seal and Charles Marcus Edwards, were let go?
GILBERT: I have no idea. None whatsoever.
20/20: They were involved in these killings, weren't they?
GILBERT: I was told that they were, but now they might not have been, I don't know. They didn't tell me exactly who all was involved in this. They never did come forward and say, "The, me and so-and-so, and so-and-so did this."
20/20: No, those --
GILBERT: Uh, I only… uh, gave the information to the FBI that I knew of the ones that were talking to me.
20/20: Right. And those were Ernest -- that, that was Ernest Parker and Jack Seal.
GILBERT: [OVERLAP] Now, they didn't -- [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]
20/20: And Clyde Seal. Clyde Seal also told you what happened. Isn't that correct?
GILBERT: [PAUSE] I'm not sure about that now. I'm going to have to, I'm going to have to think about that a while. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]
GILBERT: Yes, it wasn't then. It was on another time.
20/20: All right.
GILBERT: Uh, this… didn't take place that particular time.
20/20: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Should we take a cigarette break? [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS]