Autopsy Confirms Body of Till, Victim U.S. Racial Hate Crime
DNA tests from a recent autopsy positively identify the body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black youth who was tortured in rural Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly whistling at a White woman, a newspaper reported.
Authorities exhumed Till’s body from his grave in a suburban Chicago cemetery on June 1 and found what appeared to be bullet fragments.
Till, who was from Chicago, was abducted from his uncle’s Mississippi home on Aug. 28, 1955, during a summer visit. Fishermen found his disfigured body three days later in the Tallahatchie River.
Alvin Sykes, head of the Emmett Till Justice Campaign that helped reopen the Till case last year, told Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger newspaper that the DNA confirmation destroys the defense claim of two White men during the 1955 trial that the body recovered from the river was not Till’s body and might have been planted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Authorities wouldn’t return calls for comment last week on the newspaper’s report.
The all-White jury cited doubt about the identity of the body in explaining why it acquitted J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant despite their admission that they had kidnapped the teenager. Milam and Bryant, both now dead, denied killing Till during the trial.
After their acquittal, Milam and Bryant confessed in a Look magazine story to beating and shooting Till, saying they killed the teenager because he’d whistled at Bryant’s wife.
The new investigation might reveal other conspirators who could be prosecuted, authorities said.
August 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Till’s murder.
The U.S. Justice Department reopened the Till investigation last year after reviewing several pieces of information, including a documentary by New York filmmaker Keith Beauchamp.
— Associated Press
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