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Three days after Emmett Till’s abduction and murder, his body was discovered in the Tallahatchie River. Till’s body was badly disfigured and bloated, and he was only identified by a ring with the initials “LT,” which was given to him by his father, Louis Till. Authorities in Mississippi wanted to have the boy’s body buried in haste, but Till’s mother, Mamie, demanded his son’s remains be brought back to Chicago, so she could identify him before the burial (via History). Mamie was devastated to hear of her son’s death, and she left even more heartbroken upon seeing the condition of his son’s body.

In an interview in 2003, Mamie described what she saw. She said the bridge of his son’s nose looked like it had been chopped, and he only had two teeth left. While inspecting her son’s ear, Mamie noticed the shot on his temple where the light shone through, as the bullet went through his head, per 60 Minutes. Despite her son’s disfigured face and body, Mamie insisted on having an open-casket funeral to show everyone what his boy went through at the hands of his murderers.

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