March 17, 2006
The FBI has concluded its investigation into the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till and turned its report over to Mississippi District Attorney Joyce L. Chiles. Although no federal charges will be filed in the civil-rights era case, state charges could be filed.
The FBI reopened its investigation last year in the decades-old case and exhumed Till's body for an autopsy in June 2005. No federal charges will be filed because the statute of limitations for civil rights violations is five years.
Emmett (Bobo) Till was a black teenager from Chicago visiting relatives in Mississippi when he was beaten and killed for whistling at a white woman. The case was an important turning point in the civil rights movement.
An all-white jury acquitted two men of Till's murder in 1955. The two later confessed to the crime to a magazine writer. Both are now deceased.
"We knew that there were no federal charges to be brought. Only state murder and kidnapping," said Till's cousin, Simeon Wright, "The family can't do anything. It's up to Mrs. Chiles now and the state of Mississippi that's been given a rare chance to redeem themselves," Wright said in telephone interview. "They claim that they have changed. We're gonna see. We're going to stand back and watch what happens."
Wright was with Till on the night of the murder.