Justice Dept reopens investigation into Emmett Till’s lynching murder

Ruben Ruiz
July 13, 2018

The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till, the black teenager whose brutal killing in MS shocked the world and helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.

The U.S. Department of Justice cites the "discovery of new information" as the reason for reopening the case. Bryant and his half-brother Milam were charged with murder but acquitted in the kidnap-torture slaying of 14-year-old black teen Emmett Till in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant.

The report to Congress in March was sent as part of an annual update to lawmakers made possible due to a law bearing Till's name.

In a book published previous year, researcher Timothy B. Tyson reported that the woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham said that her story was not true and did not remember the sequence of events clearly.

During the summer of 1955 Emmett Till was visiting his family in MS when the Chicago teen encountered a white woman at a store who claimed he whistled at her and touched her inappropriately. Two white men - Donham's then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam - were charged with murder but acquitted in the slaying of Till, who had been staying with relatives in northern MS at the time.

"It's probably always an open case until all the parties have passed away", said District Attorney Dewayne Richardson, whose circuit includes the community where Till was abducted.

He had been mutilated, and his mother's decision to hold an open-casket funeral with his unrecognizable face on full display was instrumental in drawing attention to his case and has been credited with "reigniting a widespread passion for the Civil Rights Movement". Deliberations barely took an hour, and one juror claimed the acquittal could've come sooner had they not stopped to have a soda. In a book published by historian Timothy B. Tyson, Bryant said she's fuzzy on the details.

Parker says the Justice Department hasn't told Till's family anything about the reopened investigation.

Donham, however, is still alive and will turn 84 this month.

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"When I heard that she said he didn't do anything worthy of death and heard she said she didn't tell the truth I was pleased and satisfied", commented Till's cousin. Three years later, a MS grand jury declined to issue new charges.

"We don't know anything".

Relatives of Till who have tried to get the case reopened since the release of the book, are grateful for the newfound efforts.

Donham, then 21 and known as Carolyn Bryant, testified in 1955 as a prospective defence witness in the trial of Bryant and Milam.

Bryant and Milam were acquitted of the murder charges against them by an all-white jury.

The Duke University scholar says he shared materials including recordings of 2008 interviews with a white woman, Carolyn Donham, acknowledging that she wasn't truthful when she testified that Till made sexual advances at a MS store in 1955.

The woman - Carolyn Bryant - reportedly told her husband and brother that Emmett had groped her, made crude remarks, and wolf-whistled at Carolyn.

According to History, author Tim Tyson - who wrote 2017's "The Blood of Emmett Till" - wrote that Carolyn Bryant later recanted her testimony, and said that young Emmett had never touched, harassed, or threatened her at all.

"Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him", Donham said.

Other reports by GizPress

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