Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Justice Dept reopens investigation into Emmett Till’s lynching murder

Justice Dept reopens investigation into Emmett Till’s lynching murder

The case was closed in 2007 after authorities said that the suspects in question had died, and a state grand jury did not file new charges. Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted Wednesday by The Associated Press. The book, by Timothy B. Tyson, quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as acknowledging during a 2008 interview that she wasn't truthful when she testified that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a store in 1955.

Donham's then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with murder but later acquitted in Till's slaying. The two men later admitted in a magazine interview to killing Till, but were never retried. Both are now dead.

Bryant, whose name is now Carolyn Donham, is in her 80s and lives in North Carolina.

The Associated Press's Jay Reeves wrote, "A man who came to the door at [Carolyn's] residence declined to comment about the FBI reopening the investigation". In an interview published in the book, Bryant admitted she lied about Till coming on to her.

District Attorney Dewayne Richardson declined comment Thursday on any role he might have in the case. Most episodes investigated in recent years as part of a federal effort to re-examine racially motivated murders have not led to prosecutions or even referrals to state authorities. The FBI still conducted an inquiry, which included an exhumation of Emmett's body from an IL cemetery, for about two years to settle whether there were any state crimes that could still be prosecuted. His murderers then strapped a cotton gin fan to his neck with barbed wire so it would weigh him down when they tossed him in the Tallahatchie River.

Pictures of his mutilated body during his funeral helped spark the civil rights movement, AP noted. Three years later, a MS grand jury declined to issue new charges. Of course, we've made a lot of progress.

"We don't know anything".

"He said, 'How about a date, baby?'" she testified, according to a trial transcript released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation a decade ago. "He said, 'How about a date, baby?'" she testified.

Moments after pulling away, she said the teenager "caught me at the cash register", grasped her around the waist with both hands and pulled her towards him.

Though a judge ruled Carolyn's testimony inadmissible in court, her husband and Milam were quickly acquitted.

Despite the pleas of his MS family, Roy Bryant and Milam reportedly forced Emmett into their waiting vehicle and drove him down to the Tallahatchie River, where they reportedly forced the teen to carry a 75-pound cotton gin fan.

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.

Alan Blinder of the New York Times reports that Donham also told Tyson she could not remember the sequence of events on that fateful day, but that "n$3 othing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him".

"They could have made this announcement a year ago, but they saved it for a time they're in trouble about their racial politics", he said. "You'd have to leave it to the judgment of some of the law enforcement agencies that are involved or the commission that would be created" to consider materials for release, Jones said.

Like this: