Charleston Sheriff Says Body in River Wasn’t Young Till
Memphis Commercial Appeal, 4 September 1955
Sheriff H. C. Strider said yesterday he doesn’t believe the body pulled from the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi was that of a Negro Boy who was whisked from his uncle’s home accused of whistling at a white woman.
“The body we took from the river looked more like that of a grown man instead of a young boy,” the Tallahatchie County Sheriff said in Charleston, Miss. “It was also more decomposed than it should have been after that short stay in the water.”
The body, thought to be that of 14-year-old Emmett Till, was taken from the river Wednesday. It was tied with barbed wire to a heavy gin wheel.
Uncle “Wasn’t Sure”
“Even the boy’s uncle wasn’t sure the body was that of Emmett Till,” the sheriff said.
However, in Chicago young Till’s cousin, Ray F. Mooty, said: “The family is convinced the body is Emmett.” He said Sheriff Strider’s comments appeared to be an attempt to “cover up.”
The boy’s mother, Mamie Bradley, said, “Yes, I’m positive” when asked if the body was that of her son. Then she added, “I’m positive until something is proven different.”
Mooty said if a question as to the identity of the body arose, the family would turn the body over to the authorities for positive identification by them.
Sheriff George Smith of adjoining Leflore County said last night that Sheriff Strider’s deductions were “news to me.”
Deputies Took Ring
“I thought the body had been positively identified,” Sheriff Smith said. “One of my deputies took the ring and carried it to the boy’s home where I understand it was identified as Till’s ring. That’s all I know about the identification.”
Sheriff Strider said the victim looked at least 18 years old and probably had been in the water four or five days. He said there was a large silver ring on the boy’s middle finger of his right hand.
“Mose said he couldn’t identify the ring and would have to talk to his boys to see if they could identify it,” Sheriff Strider said. He was speaking of Mose Wright, Till’s uncle with whom he had been staying.
Sheriff Strider said he believes Till is still alive.