Emmett Till's Casket Found 'Rusted, Battered'

Locals search for loved ones' graves at desecrated cemetery
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 10, 2009 9:57 AM CDT
Family members search for the graves of relatives July 9, 2009, after graves were discovered dug up and bodies dumped into unmarked mass graves in an alleged scheme to resell the plots.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
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(Newser) – As Chicagoans mourned the desecration of a historic cemetery, the casket of civil rights icon Emmett Till was found rusted in a shack amid garbage and gravestones, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “When we opened it up trying to find what we have, a family of possums ran out,” said the county sheriff. Till’s body had been exhumed in 2005 during an investigation of his 1955 killing.

The casket, displayed worldwide after Till’s death at age 14, a watershed of the civil rights movement, was meant to be used in a memorial. One of four workers charged in a body-excavation scheme at Burr Oak cemetery allegedly kept donations for the memorial for herself. Locals gathered at the cemetery to check on loved ones’ graves for fear they’d been dug up. “This is like having a funeral all over again,” said one.

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