Family Calls for New Probe Into Emmett Till Lynching
A key witness is quoted in a new book as saying she lied
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2017 3:58 PM CST
In this Aug. 27, 2015, file photo, Deborah Watts, of Minneapolis, speaks in Jackson, Miss., about the slaying of her cousin, Emmett Till.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
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(Newser) – The horrific 1955 Mississippi slaying of Emmett Till, which helped trigger the modern civil rights movement, should be re-investigated now that a key witness is quoted as saying she lied about what the black teen said and did before he was lynched, Till's relatives say. The AP reports two of Till's cousins, Wheeler Parker and Deborah Watts, said a renewed probe of Carolyn Donham's role could settle lingering questions. Among them: Whether an as-yet unidentified person, possibly a woman, was with Till's killers the night he was abducted. Now 77, Parker has a particular interest in the case: He was there when his 14-year-old cousin from Chicago violated Southern racial taboos of the time by whistling at Donham, a then-21-year-old white woman working at a country store in rural Mississippi.

Till was later beaten and shot, and his mutilated body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River. During the suspects' trial, Donham claimed Till also made sexual advances and grabbed her hand, neither of which Parker said ever happened. "I don't know what else they could investigate," Parker said. "(But) if they could bring more truth, I'd say investigate." "We know that she has admitted that she lied, and we know that is part of the reason Emmett is no longer with us," said Watts. "If there is any chance to reopen the case, I hope they will take this opportunity to do it now." Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said he "will do all the law allows to make sure justice is done." But he wouldn't comment on any investigation.

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