After taking Emmett from his great-grandmother, Mr. Bryant and Milam took him to Bryant’s store. That they handed him over to Mrs. Bryant there is beyond dispute. He later said he replied that he too was the wrong person.
“A few days after the murder, he told the defense attorneys, ‘They brought the Negro boy into the store, he was scared, but he wasn’t hurt, and I told him he wasn’t right,'” Mr. Anderson said in a 2016 interview.
Mr. Anderson believed, she said, that Mrs. Bryant actually saw Emmett in two places: first outside her uncle’s house, where she recognized him, and then at the store, where she had second thoughts.
“She was in the car and identified him as the right one, not knowing what they were going to do – they were going to kidnap him,” he said. “By the time they got to the store and dropped her off, she said: ‘Oh, no. He’s not perfect after all.
Murder in a shed
Leaving Mrs. Bryant at the store, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam, along with several other men — conscripted with white partners and black servants — drove Emmett about 30 miles to Drew, Miss. (No one else in the truck has been charged in connection with the crime.)
Outside Drew, at a plantation managed by Leslie Milam, JW’s brother, they brutally beat Emmett. Willie Reed, a local black teenager, later told civil rights leader Dr. Howard that he heard Emmett crying, “Mother, please save me,” from inside a shed on the property.
One of the group, probably JW Milam, shot Emmett in the head. Heading to the nearby Tallahatchie River, the men used barbed wire to tie a cotton-gin fan around Till’s neck and threw his body into the water.