The &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2001/10/24/18935.html ' target=_blank>FBI has started to exhume the body of a black boy whose lynching became a key event in the civil rights movement.
Emmett Till was 14 when he was dragged from his bed at his uncle's home in a small Mississippi town, beaten and shot in the head. The Chicago boy who was in the south for the first time had wolf-whistled a white woman two days earlier.
Two men were acquitted, but later owned up to the killing. They are now dead, but the FBI has re-opened its inquiry.
The pair, JW Milam and Roy Bryant, were acquitted by an all-white jury, but soon admitted their guilt in a magazine interview. The justice department said last year it would revisit the murder, citing new evidence, tells BBC News.
"One purpose of this is to positively identify the remains and dispel any rumors as to whether it is truly &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/2005/05/05/59590.html ' target=_blank>Emmett Till or not," FBI spokesman Frank Bochte said. A second reason, he said, is to "see if any further evidence can be looked at to help Mississippi officials bring additional charges if warranted."
The work began after a brief, private graveside service for three members of Till's family. They later declined to comment.
Investigators with shovels and a backhoe began digging under a white tent erected over Till's grave. The family was allowed onto the cemetery grounds, but onlookers were corralled outside the entrance.
Arthur Everett, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago field office, said the vault came out of the ground easily. He described the moment it left the ground as a relief for agents and "sublime" for Till's family.
Everett, who is black, grew up in the South and was born the year Till was slain. "For me, personally, the event signifies that even though the system of justice sometimes turns very slowly, it still turns," he said.
The Justice Department announced last year it would reopen an investigation into Till's slaying, saying it was triggered by several pieces of information including a documentary by New York filmmaker Keith Beauchamp.