US reopens probe into Emmett Till slaying

Danny Woods
July 13, 2018

The federal government has reopened the investigation into the lynching murder of Emmett Till.

What's the history of the case? In last year's The Blood of Emmett Till, however, it was discovered that Carolyn Donham had lied when she testified that Emmett Till harassed her with "verbal and physical advances" at a store in MS in 1955.

The book says a white woman acknowledged she wasn't truthful when she testified that the 14-year-old Till grabbed her and whistled at her in a store in 1955.

Till was abducted from his great-uncle's house in Money, Mississippi, beaten and shot.

Till was at Wright's house when Roy Bryant and his half brother J.W. Milam came for Till in the middle of the night.

When they arrived at the river's bank, Bryant and Milam reportedly told Emmett to disrobe, and they purportedly began to beat him profusely and gouged out one of Emmett's eyes.

His body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River and weighed down with a heavy fan, before being discovered three days later. After Till's death, when he was so mutilated that it was impossible to recognize him, it was this ring that allowed Wright to positively identify his nephew.

According to Biography, Till's mother Mamie Till had extraordinary success for a black woman in the 1920s and 30s, both with her schooling and her eventual career.

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A few days before he was killed, Till and his MS cousins went to a country market owned by a white couple, Roy Bryant and his wife, Carolyn.

Till was based in Chicago, but when his great uncle, Moses Wright, visited Till's family in Chicago, he offered to bring Till down to MS to visit his family.

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

"That part's not true", she told Tyson, referring to her claims that Till had grabbed her and made verbal advances, as Sheila Weller reports for Vanity Fair. Then she said, nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him. A MS jury acquitted the two men responsible for his murder, and then a while later they confessed to the killing in a magazine. They were not retried. The case was closed in 2007 with authorities saying the suspects were dead; a state grand jury didn't file any new charges.

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

The Justice Department report, which was issued in March, does not indicate what the new information might be, but it comes after the publication of a book previous year, "The Blood of Emmett Till", by Duke University professor Timothy B. Tyson.

District Attorney Dewayne Richardson declined comment Thursday on any role he might have in the case. Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted Wednesday by The Associated Press.

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

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