James Jordan was the prosecution's only witness to the shootings that took the lives of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman on June 21, 1964.
Jordan was a newcomer to Meridian at the time the Lauderdale County klan began plotting the elimination of Mickey Schwerner. He worked in a motel and operated an illegal speakeasy outside of Meridian.
Jordan took an active role in the deadly conspiracy. He recruited Meridian klansmen for the June 21 drive to Neshoba County. He was one of six men in a Ford Fairlane that pursued the civil rights workers as they drove down Highway 19 following their nighttime release from jail. He probably even fired one of the shots that killed James Chaney. According to Doyle Barnette, another Klan informant who later refused to testify, Jordan removed Chaney from the backseat of Price's patrol car on Rock Cut Road and shot him in the abdomen, before he was finished off by Roberts. According to Barnette, Jordan said, "Well, you didn't leave me nothing but a nigger, but at least I killed me a nigger." Jordan tells a different story, relating that he was stationed as a lookout at turnoff onto Rock Cut Road, and returned to Price's car only after Roberts had killed all three of the civil rights workers.
FBI Agent John Proctor convinced Jordan to turn state's evidence. Jordan was a nervous man who had difficulty keeping a secret. Various comments Jordan had made to friends and acquaintances suggested to the FBI Jordan was deeply involved in the crime. Proctor visited Jordan in Gulfport, where Jordan had moved in the fall of 1964 to take a job as a surveyor at a missile site.
Proctor believed that Jordan finally talked, after five long interviews, for two reasons. First, because he was convinced the FBI had accumulated strong evidence against hime. Second, because he was going through financial difficulties and was promised $3500 in return for his full story. After his arrest (which was staged to avoid suspicion that Jordan was cooperating with authorities), Jordan and his family were relocated to Georgia. On October 11, 1967, Jordan was taken back to Mississippi under heavy guard.
It was to the great relief of the prosecution when Jordan finally took the stand. Shortly before his scheduled testimony, Jordan had been discovered in the office of an FBI agent lying on his back on a desk, the victim of an apparant heart attack. Jordan was rushed to the hopital where he was diagnosed as suffering from hyperventilation. He was taken to the courthouse by five agents with guns drawn, and then collapsed again and had to be taken from the building on a stretcher. The next day, he made it to the stand.
Jordan's own case for his role in the Mississippi Burning murders was heard in Atlanta. Jordan pled guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison.