Episode 091: Kevin Rust – Reopened Klan Murder Case, Ben Chester White

Retired agent Kevin Rust served 29 years with the FBI. He spent a majority of his career in Mississippi in resident agencies out of the Jackson Division, including 13 years in a one person office. In this episode of FBI Retired case File Review, Kevin Rust reviews the reopened civil rights investigation of the racially motivated murder of sharecropper Ben Chester White by known Ku Klux Klan members. In the federal trial, witnesses spoke from the grave when testimony from the original state trial was read into the court record. The new case resulted in the murder conviction of Ernest Avants 34 years after the horrific hate crime occurred. During his Bureau career, Kevin Rust also had assignments in Chicago, Budapest, FBI Headquarters and Quantico. He was a crisis negotiator who responded to many incidents both domestically and internationally and taught negotiation concepts to hundreds of state, local and international officers. Kevin Rust, who prior to entering the FBI was a CPA with Price Waterhouse, currently works as a contractor for the FBI’s International Corruption Unit tracing money flows and identifying assets for seizure that were purchased with money stolen by foreign kleptocrats.

Special Agent (Retired)

Kevin Rust

6/9/1985 –  10/31/2014










The following links are for numerous articles regarding the reopened civil rights investigation of the racially motivated murder of sharecropper Ben Chester White:

Northeastern University School of Law – Case Watch – Ben Chester White

New York Times – 1/26/2003:  Last Cry for Justice in Mississippi As U.S. Trial Revisits ’66 Killing 

New York Times – 2/28/2003:  Ex-F.B.I Agent Testifies of Bloody Time in Mississippi  

New York Times – 3/1/2003:  Old Mississippi Crime Scene Revisited in Murder Trial 

New York Times – 3/1/2003: Former Klansman Is Found Guilty of 1966 Killing  

Washington Post – 2/27/2007: FBI Reopens 100 Civil Rights-Era Cases  2/27/2007   

Mississippi sharecropper Ben Chester White was murdered by three Klansmen on June 10, 1966.












Ben Chester White












Ernest Avants was tried in state court in 1967 and acquitted on the murder charge.












Ernest Avants was convicted of murdering Ben Chester White 34 years after the horrific hate crime occurred.









Former agent Allan Kornblum’s interview of Avants in 1967 and his testimony in the 2003 federal trial were key to the conviction of Avants for murder.













Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, attempts to relive her glory days by writing crime fiction and hosting FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast available for free subscription on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and other popular podcast apps. Her nonfiction book FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives and her FBI corruption squad police procedurals featuring Special Agent Kari Wheeler are available wherever books are sold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top