'New Information' Reopens Inquiry in Emmett Till's Murder

Following publication of a book in which Carolyn Donham says she lied when testifying against Till
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 12, 2018 7:57 AM CDT
'New Information' Reopens Inquiry in Emmett Till's Murder
In this 1955 file photo, Carolyn Bryant poses for a photo.   (AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File)

The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till, the black teen whose brutal killing in Mississippi shocked the world and helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago. The Justice Department told Congress in a report in March it's reinvestigating Till's 1955 slaying in Money, Miss., after receiving "new information," the AP reports. The case was closed in 2007, with authorities saying the suspects were dead; a state grand jury didn't file any new charges. The federal report, sent annually to lawmakers under a law that bears Till's name, doesn't indicate what the new info might be. But it was issued in late March following the publication last year of The Blood of Emmett Till, a book by Timothy B. Tyson that says a key figure in the case acknowledged lying about events preceding the slaying of the 14-year-old from Chicago.

The book quotes a white woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, as acknowledging during a 2008 interview that she wasn't truthful when she testified Till grabbed her, whistled, and made sexual advances at a store in 1955. Two white men—Donham's then-husband Roy Bryant and his half brother JW Milam—were charged with murder but acquitted. The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but weren't retried; both are now dead. "Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him," the book quotes Donham, who lives in Raleigh, NC, and will turn 84 this month, as saying. Relatives of Till pushed AG Jeff Sessions to reopen the case last year following publication of the book. Deborah Watts, Till's cousin and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said it's "wonderful" that the murder is getting another look. "We are ... very interested in justice being done," she says. (More Emmett Till stories.)

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