BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Robert Edward Chambliss, a former Ku Klux Klansman convicted of killing four black girls in a 1963 church bombing that became an epochal part of the civil rights movement in the Deep South, died Tuesday in a prison hospital at the age of 81.
Chambliss had been serving a life sentence in isolation at St. Clair Correctional Facility at Odenville. He had been taken to Lloyd Nolan Hospital on Monday because of a history of heart problems, a prison system spokeswoman said.
He had been kept in a special cell "separate from everybody--blacks and whites," Debbie Herbert said.
Chambliss was convicted of first-degree murder in the Sept. 15, 1963, dynamite explosion that rocked the 16th Street Baptist Church during a period of racial turmoil in Birmingham.
Police said the bomb was made of up to 15 dynamite sticks and placed in an outside stairwell of the church that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had made his Birmingham headquarters. It exploded as the four girls were changing into choir robes in a basement restroom area.