Emmett Till Murder Investigation Reopened Due to 'New Information'

13 July, 2018, 10:11 | Author: Donna Miller
  • Justice Dept reopens investigation into Emmett Till’s lynching murder

The federal government has quietly revived its investigation into the murder of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African-American boy whose abduction and killing remains, nearly 63 years later, among the starkest and most searing examples of racial violence in the South.

The reopening of the Till case was disclosed in a federal report sent to lawmakers in March that said the Justice Department had received unspecified "new information".

The AP speculates that the re-opening of the case was likely prompted by the 2017 publication of The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson, which quoted one of the key figures in the case as saying that she had made false statements that lead to Till's murder.

Emmett's crime? He had been accused - we now know, falsely - of flirting with and making advances at then-21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, who, along with her husband, Roy, owned a grocery store in Money, Mississippi.

Two white men - Donham's then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam - were charged with murder but acquitted in the slaying of Chicago teen Till, who had been staying with relatives in northern MS at the time. Two men who confessed to killing Emmett, only after they had been acquitted by an all-white jury in MS, are dead.

The jurists deliberated for less than an hour and went on to issue a "not guilty" verdict, acquitting the two men in Emmett's slaying.

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The Associated Press's Jay Reeves wrote, "A man who came to the door at [Carolyn's] residence declined to comment about the FBI reopening the investigation". Both are now dead.

CHANG: What do you make of the Department of Justice reopening this investigation? After they finished reportedly assaulting him, the two shot Emmett in the head and threw the teen's body - which had been tied to the cotton gin fan with barbed wire - into the river.

Bryant told Tyson that she "felt tender sorrow" for Till's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who fought for civil rights and died in 2003.

Relatives of Till who have tried to get the case reopened since the release of the book, are grateful for the newfound efforts. The FBI still conducted an inquiry, which included an exhumation of Emmett's body from an IL cemetery, for about two years to settle whether there were any state crimes that could still be prosecuted.

Images of his mutilated body gave witness to the depth of racial hatred in the Deep South and inspired civil rights campaigns. Then, Bryant said, he used obscenities that she would not repeat in the courtroom.

"He said, 'How about a date, baby?'" she testified, according to a trial transcript released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation a decade ago. However, decades later, Donham told Tyson that this part of her testimony was not true. "Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him". Outside of the presence of a jury, she testified that Till had grabbed her around the waist and said, "How about a date, baby?" The act paves the way for the department to "expeditiously investigate" unsolved pre-1980 civil rights murders.

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