Revisiting a Martyrdom

Inspired by a novice filmmaker, prosecutors launch a new investigation into the murder of Emmett Till

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Where they failed, Beauchamp's work on The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till apparently succeeded. (Another documentary on the subject, The Murder of Emmett Till by director Stanley Nelson, aired on PBS last year.) Initially researching a feature film, Beauchamp, 32, says, "I realized that I wasn't doing interviews--I was taking depositions." He says he found witnesses, including a woman who asserts on film that she saw a black man aiding the murderers' search for Till, and that Milam's green Chevy pickup was not alone when leaving the kidnapping, but one of a "caravan." Beauchamp eventually concluded that as many as 11 people--six of them white and five black--were complicit, and presented his findings to Mississippi authorities in February. Quizzed about the witness count last week, local district attorney Joyce Chiles replied, "That number would probably best come from Keith Beauchamp. The only thing we're doing is following up on statements of people he has already located."

That is fine with Simeon Wright. He loves the film. He differs with those who see little point to the investigation now that Bryant and Milam are dead. "Would it be proper for us to say Mohammed Atta and all his boys are dead, so let Sept. 11 die?" he asks. "We can know who was in the conspiracy. They're in their 70s now. Why die with this stain on their hands?" And he adds, "Who knows? Maybe the state will call and say, 'Mr. Wright, we're so sorry your family suffered this grave injustice in Mississippi.'" --Reported by Alice Jackson Baughn/Money, David Thigpen/Chicago and Deirdre van Dyk/New York

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