Two Accounts of the Abduction of Emmett ("Bobo") Till

Moses Wright's home in East Money, Mississippi, the scene of Emmett Till's abduction
by Hugh Whitaker from A Case Study in Southern Justice: The Emmett Till Case (Master's Thesis, Florida State)(1963)(pp. 109-111)

J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant pulled up under the cedar and persimmon trees in front of “Preacher” Wright’s house around 2 A.M. Sunday morning.  Milam carried a five-cell flashlight and his .45 in his right hand.  Roy Bryant called, “Preacher - - Preacher.”[1]

            Wright: “Who is it?”

            Bryant: “This is Mr. Bryant.  I want to talk to you and that boy.”

            Mose Wright came to the door. “Yes, Sir.”

            Bryant: “You got two boys here from Chicago?”

            Wright: “Yes, Sir.”

            Bryant: “I want that boy who did the talking down at Money.”

Bryant and Milam entered the front room of the six-room house.  Bryant told Preacher Wright to turn on the lights.  Wright replied that they were out of order.  Milam walked into the room where the four boys lay sleeping in two beds.  Milam shined his light in Till’s face.  [“]You the niggah that did the talking down at Money?”[2]

            Till: “Yeah.”

            Milam: “Don’t say ‘yeah’ to me, niggah.  I’ll blow your head off.  Get your clothes on.”[3]

            As Till dressed, he reached for his heavy crepe sole shoes and socks.

            Milam: “Just the shoes.”

            Till: “I don’t wear shoes without socks.”[4]

            Preacher and his wife begged the brothers not to take young Till.  Mrs. Wright offered to pay “whatever you want to charge if you will just release him.”

            Milam asked Wright if he knew anybody there.  Wright replied, “No, Sir.  I don’t know you.”

            Milam: “How old are you?”

            Wright: “Sixty-four.”

            Milam: “Well, if you know any of us her tonight, then you will never live to get to be sixty-five.”[5]

[1] Unless otherwise noted, the account of the kidnapping is from the testimony of Mose Wright at the Trial.  Official Trnascript[sic], pp. 4-20.

[2] Huie, Wolf Whistle, p. 24; also Official Transcript, pp. 15-16.

[3] Huie, Wolf Whistle, P. 24

[4] Ibid.

[5] Official Trnascript[sic], p. 16.


by Simeon Wright from Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till (Lawrence Hill books, 2010)(pp. 57-59)

When [my father] opened the door, he saw two white men standing on the porch.  One of them - J. W. Milam, we would learn later – was tall, thickset, and balding; he had a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other.  The second man was almost as tall but not as heavy; he was the one who had spoken, Roy Bryant.  A third man stood behind Bryant, hiding his face from Dad.  Dad believed he was a black man, someone who knew us.

The white men entered the house through our front guest room, where Wheeler and Maurice were sleeping.  Dad woke Wheeler up first.  Milam told Dad that Wheeler was not the boy he was looking for; he was looking for the fat boy from Chicago.  Then I heard loud talking in my bedroom.

In my half-conscious state, I had no idea what was going on.  Was I dreaming? Or was it a nightmare? Why were these white men in our bedroom at this hour?  I rubbed my eyes and then shielded them, trying to see beyond the glare of the flashlight.  The balding man ordered me to go back to sleep.

Dad had to shake Bobo for quite a while to wake him up.  When he finally awoke, the balding man told Bobo to get up and put his clothes on.  It was then that I realized they had come to take him away.  It wasn’t clear to me what was going on and why they wanted just him.  At first I thought they had come to send him back to Chicago, but that didn’t make sense at all.

I was lying there, frozen stiff and not moving, when my mother rushed into the room.  She began pleading with the men not to take Bobo.  I could hear the fear in her voice.  She broke into a mixture of please and tears as she practically prayed for Bobo, asking the men not to harm him.  The men ignored her, urging Bobo to hurry up and get dressed.  He was still somewhat groggy and rubbing his eyes, but he quickly obeyed.  My mother then offered them some money not to take Bobo away.  I was now fully awake but still not moving.  It was now crystal clear to me that these men were up to no good.  They had come for Bobo, and no amount of begging, pleading, or payment was going to stop them.  Although Dad had two shotguns in his closet, the 12-gauge and a .410, he never tried to get them.  If Dad had made a break for his guns, none of us would be alive today.  I believe Milam and Bryant were prepared to kill us all at the slightest provocation.  I am glad that Dad didn’t do anything to put us all in danger.

Suddenly, the same panic I had felt after Bobo had whistled at Mrs. Bryant returned, and it was all I could do to stop trembling with fear, realizing that Bobo was not only in trouble but in grave danger.  My fear soon escalated into terror, and I was still frozen stiff in my bed, unable to move or to say anything.  My mother’s please continued as the men pushed the now-dressed Bobo from the room.  Bobo left that room without saying one word.  There is no way I could have done that.  Everyone along Dark Fear Road would have heard my screams.

           At the time I didn’t know what happened next, but according to my dad, the men took Bobo out to a car or truck that was waiting in the darkness.  One of the men asked someone inside the vehicle if this was the right boy, and Dad said he heard a women’s voice respond that it was.  Then the men drove off with Bobo, toward Money....