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:

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, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 250 episodes available for free on all popular podcast apps.


  1. […] assets purchased with money stolen by foreign kleptocrats. Kevin was previously interviewed in Episode 091 and Episode 117 regarding civil rights matters. Kevin Rush dedicates this episode to the memory of […]

  2. Lisa GunnoeApril 25, 2020

    I love this episode!
    I’m glad you posted the photos of Mr White. I’m glad his life mattered even years later.


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