Video: Digging for justice

updated 6/4/2005 8:11:17 PM ET 2005-06-05T00:11:17

Three days after the FBI exhumed Emmett Till’s body to search for clues to his slaying 50 years ago, his relatives gathered Saturday at a suburban Chicago cemetery for his reinterment.

The black teenager’s body was found by fishermen in August 1955 after he had been abducted from his uncle’s Mississippi home, reportedly for whistling at a white woman. His slaying helped kindle the civil rights movement.

Simeon Wright, a cousin who said he was sleeping in the same bed with Till the night he disappeared, said the service Saturday reminded him of the lasting impact Till’s death has had.

“Emmett’s blood is still crying out all over the world,” Wright said.

Federal investigators exhumed Till’s remains Wednesday, saying DNA or other evidence might help determine who killed the 14-year-old and whether anyone still alive should be prosecuted. Results from the autopsy have not been released.

TILL
AP file
Emmett Till is seen in Chicago about six months before he was killed in 1955.

An agent at the FBI office in Jackson, Miss., declined to comment Saturday and referred questions to District Attorney Joyce Chiles in Greenville, Miss., who is leading the investigation. A message left for Chiles was not immediately returned.

Two white men charged with Till’s murder — Roy Bryant and his half brother J.W. Milam — were acquitted by an all-white jury in September 1955. The two, now dead, later confessed to beating and shooting Till in a magazine article. They said they killed the teenager because he whistled at Bryant’s wife.

During the trial, defense attorneys suggested the body found in the river was not Till’s and that the boy was still alive. FBI officials have said they hope the autopsy results will disprove that theory.

Wright said he believes there are people who were involved in Till’s death who still could be held accountable if new evidence is found.

“I expect someone to be indicted, that is my hope,” Wright said after the burial. “Hopefully they will pay for what they did back in 1955.”

The U.S. Justice Department reopened the Till investigation last year after reviewing several pieces of information, including a documentary by a New York filmmaker.

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