Thomas Blanton, 16th Street Baptist Church bomber, dies in prison

Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr.
Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr.(ADOC)
Updated: Jun. 26, 2020 at 3:12 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The last living 16th Street Baptist Church bomber has died in prison at William Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Thomas Blanton, 82, was serving a life sentence at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County for the September 1963 bombing that killed Denise McNair, Cynthia Morris Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins.

Senator Doug Jones, who at the time was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, led to the prosecution of Blanton in 2001 and Bob Cherry in 2002. Cherry died in 2004.

Robert “Dynamite Bob” Chambliss was convicted in 1977 by then Alabama Attorney General Robert Baxley.

Jones released this statement on Blanton’s death:

“Tommy Blanton is responsible for one of the darkest days in Alabama’s history, and he will go to his resting place without ever having atoned for his actions or apologizing to the countless people he hurt. The fact that after the bombing, he went on to remain a free man for nearly four decades speaks to a broader systemic failure to hold him and his accomplices accountable. That he died at this moment, when the country is trying to reconcile the multi-generational failure to end systemic racism, seems fitting. However, what the families of those girls, and the entire community of Birmingham, do know today is that when we come together and demand justice, we can achieve it. At this moment in our nation when we have all come to realize that the journey to racial justice has taken far too long, we must come together. Tommy Blanton may be gone, but we still have work to do.”

McNair’s sister, Lisa issued this statement on Blanton’s death:

“I wished I could have sat down with him to find out if he had had a change of heart. But ultimately, I hope that he repented to the Lord for this sin and made his peace before he died.”

Governor Kay Ivey on Friday issued this statement:

“While serving a life sentence, Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr., the last surviving 16th Street Baptist Church bomber, has passed away from natural causes. His role in the hateful act on September 15, 1963 stole the lives of four innocent girls and injured many others. That was a dark day that will never be forgotten in both Alabama’s history and that of our nation. Although his passing will never fully take away the pain or restore the loss of life, I pray on behalf of the loved ones of all involved that our entire state can continue taking steps forward to create a better Alabama for future generations.

“Let us never forget that Sunday morning in September of 1963 and the four young ladies whose lives ended far too soon, but let us continue taking steps forward to heal, do better and honor those who sacrificed everything for Alabama and our nation to be a home of opportunity for all.”

Four little girls remembered in 16th Street Baptist Church anniversary service.
Four little girls remembered in 16th Street Baptist Church anniversary service.

This is the from the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office:

The decedent was incarcerated at William Donaldson Correctional Facility serving a life sentence for a 2001 murder conviction from Jefferson County, AL. On 6-26-2020 at approximately 5:00 am, correctional staff was alerted that the decedent was experiencing an apparent medical event and he was immediately transferred to the infirmary for treatment. While in the infirmary the decedent’s conditioned declined and he went into cardiac arrest. All attempts to sustain life were unsuccessful and death was pronounced.

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