Killing of Herbert Thompson in Alabama in 1953


Case summary

Herbert Thompson, 33, a farmworker and/or carpenter, was killed in 1953 by the Dial brothers, two white farmers in Chambers County Alabama who fraudulently obtained Thompson’s release from jail by paying his bond and forced him to work their farm. When Thompson found that he was not free to leave, he sought to escape but was caught and beaten by the brothers. He died two days later from his injuries. A grand jury indicted several Dial brothers and Charles Harper, a relative. Trial jury convicted Oscar and Fred Dial and acquitted the others. An essay on this case, researched and authored by a CRRJ student, is available on request.


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: police

Date of incident: 1953-05-07
Location: Boyd, Sumter County, Alabama
Location type: victim's workplace
Allegation against victim: fleeing from forced servitude

Coroner process
Coroner/inquest: yes
Finding of no legal responsibility: no

Criminal process
Arrest: yes
Charge/indictment/information: yes
Grand jury: yes
Trial: yes
Conviction: yes
Sentence: 18 months

FBI case ID:

Birmingham 50-334

Mobile 50-52

New Orleans 50-395

Springfield 50-13

Bureau 50-2469

DOJ case ID:



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