Long lost grand jury transcripts that could shed light on one of Georgia’s most notorious unsolved lynching cases should be released, a federal appeals panel affirmed on Monday.

The transcripts from the federal grand jury that met in Athens in December 1946 to hear evidence in the Moore’s Ford lynching are one of the last hopes for shedding light on the murders of two African-American couples in rural Walton County.

VIDEO: Previous coverage of this issue

Clinton Adams has never fully escaped the horror he says he witnessed 71 years ago near a remote, wooden bridge that crossed the Apalachee River in rural Walton County. A sudden burst of violence that he and a childhood friend secretly watched. It was late afternoon of July 25, 1946, when a white mob fatally shot two black couples near the Moore’s Ford bridge.

The case was never solved and no one in the white mob that murdered the couples near a remote crossing of the Apalachee River was ever held accountable. The GBI last year announced it was closing its cold case investigation. The FBI had closed its investigation in the past couple years.

The transcripts had been presumed lost, but historian Anthony Pitch located them in the National Archives while researching a book on the case. He petitioned the court to release the transcripts and after a federal judge in Macon ruled in his favor the Justice Department appealed. The government lawyers argued that grand jury proceedings are secret and should remain so.

Atanya Lynette Hayes, the granddaughter of one of the lynching victims, Roger Malcolm, said she was crying at work on Monday after getting word that an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel had affirmed a lower court decision to release the transcripts.

“I feel overwhelmed,” Hayes said. “I’m filled with emotions. I can’t stop crying. This may seem small to other people, but it’s huge to me.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X