Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Government Reopens Probe Of Emmett Till Slaying

Government Reopens Probe Of Emmett Till Slaying

The Department of Justice has reopened its investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old whose vicious lynching and the subsequent acquittal of his killers became a flashpoint for the civil-rights movement.

The Justice Department said its renewed inquiry, which it described in a report submitted to Congress in late March, was "based upon the discovery of new information".

Emmett's savage murder in 1955 jolted a nation, spurring it to action on civil rights.

The federal report is sent annually to lawmakers under legislation bearing Till's name, and this year's report does not describe the new information that triggered the additional investigation.

A federal official says the renewed investigation of the killing of Emmett Till was prompted by a book published a year ago that includes a key figure's acknowledgement that she lied about the case.

But the 2017 book "The Blood of Emmett Till", 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 MS store in 1955.

Two white men - Ms Donham's then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother JW Milam - were charged with murder but acquitted. Two men who confessed to killing Emmett, only after they had been acquitted by an all-white jury in MS, are dead. The government has investigated 115 cases involving 128 victims under the "cold case" law named for Till, the report said. But it was issued in March following the publication previous year of "The Blood of Emmett Till". A man who came to the door at her residence declined to comment about the FBI reopening the investigation. Relatives of Till pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen the case a year ago after publication of the book. 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.

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Emmett's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, was horrified to see the state of her son's body when it was returned to her.

During the trial of Roy Bryant and Milam, Carolyn Bryant was brought as a potential witness for the defense. 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.

"We don't know anything". "Just what did he say when he grabbed your hand?" defense attorney Sidney Carlton asked, according to a trial transcript released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation a decade ago.

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.

According to History, author Tim Tyson - who wrote 2017's "The Blood of Emmett Till" - wrote that Carolyn Bryant later recanted her testimony, and said that young Emmett had never touched, harassed, or threatened her at all.

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". Authorities haven't said what that may be, but the move followed the release previous year of a book about the case.

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