Roger Malcom told a relative he thought he might not die after all when he was bailed out by a white farmer on the hot afternoon of July 25, 1946.
Eleven days earlier, he had been arrested for stabbing Barney Hester, another white farmer whom Malcom suspected of having an affair with his wife, Dorothy, who was pregnant.
On the 59th anniversary of their deaths, volunteers reenacted how the Malcoms and their friends, George and Mae Murray Dorsey, were lynched on the banks of the Apalachee River at the Moore's Ford Bridge, about 50 miles east of Atlanta.
The four were dragged from a car, beaten and shot dozens of times. Six decades later, the scene was re-created, with black volunteers as Ku Klux Klansmen, fireworks for gunshots and fake blood poured on for effect.
The sanctuary at the First African Baptist Church in Monroe overflowed during the two-hour rally, a precursor to what organizers called the reenactment the last mass public lynching in the United States. They are urging local law enforcement to arrest and prosecute anyone who may have been involved.
Lakeitha Lewis-Johnson, 30, cried as she watched the portrayal amid shouts of racial epithets from the Klan leader ordering the mob.
"My grandmother lived in that era," the Monroe resident said. "She'd be scared to talk about this, even as an old woman. It's a hurting feeling."
A crowd of about 200 looked on as the lynchings of the Dorseys and Malcoms were brought to life at the Walton-Oconee county border. The men fought as the women pleaded for their lives, Dorothy Malcom clutching her unborn child.
Law enforcement vehicles lined the route as a caravan of more than 100 cars followed a path from the scene of the fight between Roger Malcom and Hester, on to the old Walton County Jail and finally to the Moore's Ford Bridge.
Lessie Goodwin was 9 when the two couples were lynched in her home town. A sharecropper's daughter living on a white man's farm, Goodwin was told by her father not to ask about the lynchings.
It was not until years later, as an adult living near the bridge, that she learned the details.
According to the FBI's investigation into the case, the Malcoms and Dorseys were riding with a white farmer when 20 to 25 white men stopped their car on the bridge. The mob forced the couples out of the car, dragged them about 50 yards down a wagon trail and shot them along the Apalachee River.
"They say they cut the baby out of her stomach and took it to Atlanta," Goodwin said, referring to Dorothy Malcom. "It could still be alive today."
The farmer, Loy Harrison, was spared. No one was ever charged in the lynchings, even though the FBI's report named 55 suspects.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said that justice for the lynchings is overdue.
Walton County District Attorney W. Kendall Wynne Jr. has said he understands the desire for justice but that the case lacks sufficient witnesses and evidence.
President Harry Truman ordered the FBI to investigate the case in 1946, but the agency was thwarted by a lack of witnesses. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Fred Stephens said recently that his office is pursuing every lead it gets.
"They are sparse," he said, "but we have no doubt that there are still people in that community who have specific information about this case."
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a member of the Moore's Ford Memorial Committee who first learned of the lynchings as a young activist with the SCLC, was encouraged by the rally.
"Hopefully, this will shake some folks up and get the authorities to do what they should've done years ago," Brooks said.