Justice Dept reopens investigation into Emmett Till’s lynching murder

Carla Harmon
July 13, 2018

One year after the production of Timothy B. Tyson's, The Blood of Emmett Till, the federal investigation of the infamous murder of the 14-year-old black boy on account of two white men has been reopened.

Back in March, the Justice Department told Congress in a report that it had chose to re-launch its investigation following "the discovery of new information".

"With Emmett's murder taking place 63 years ago, this is an opportunity for us to do it right, for the justice department to do the right thing, and for the country to see justice prevail", Watts said.

The renewed investigation was first revealed in a recent federal report, which didn't specify what new information investigators were acting on.


Tyson's 2017 book "The Blood of Emmett Till" quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as saying during a 2008 interview that she wasn't truthful when she testified that the black teen grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a MS store six decades ago.

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.

Not even a month after the boy's body was pulled from the river, an all-white jury acquitted Carolyn Bryant's husband, Roy, and another man, J.W. Milam, of Emmett's murder, despite eyewitnesses identifying the defendants. They later admitted to a magazine they had killed Till.

"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. His mother, Mamie Till, had his casket left open. "He said, 'What's the matter baby, can't you take it?'" she testified.


No other information is known in regards to the reopening of the case. A man who answered the door to a reporter at her home declined to comment on the Justice Department's investigation.

Images of his mutilated body gave witness to the depth of racial hatred in the Deep South and inspired civil rights campaigns. The two white men who were put on trial for the murder were acquitted by an all-white jury, and the case was ultimately closed in 2007. In the book, author Tyson wrote that Donham told him her testimony about Till accosting her wasn't true. When Donham had testified in the Till case she said that the teen Till grabbed her and verbally threatened her.

"We don't know anything".

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


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".

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