Government reopens probe of Emmett Till slaying

Friday, 13 Jul, 2018

The woman's husband, Roy Bryant, and J.W. Milam were charged with Till's murder, but the two white men were later acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury.

Weeks after he published a book about the brutal slaying of Emmett Till, a North Carolina author received a call from Federal Bureau of Investigation agents asking about his interview with a key witness who acknowledged lying about her interactions with the black teen. On January 26, 2017, Vanity Fair published the story of Tyson's interview iwth Donham. But Carolyn Bryant-who now goes by Carolyn Donham-is still alive. "He said, 'How about a date, baby?'" she testified.

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

The evidence, which was heard after jurors had been sent out, was ruled inadmissible by the judge.

Tyson quotes a 2008 interview with Donham in his book, acknowledging that she lied during her testimony. "That part's not true", Donham was revealed as admitting. She also told Tyson that she could not remember what else happened in the grocery store that day, but admitted that her testimony was false.

The US government has reopened its investigation into the 1955 murder of a black teenager whose brutal killing helped inspire the civil rights movement. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, introduced legislation this week that would make the government release information about unsolved civil rights killings.

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". That's in the blood of Emmett Till.

"The Till case has been re-opened by DOJ based upon the discovery of new information", the department said in March. It did not elaborate.

Though the Justice Department has reopened its investigation-possibly due to Donham's comments to Tyson-it is not yet known if prosecutors will bring a new case against anyone connected to the murder.

After Till's alleged crime, Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam allegedly pulled Till from his bed in the middle of the night, dragged him to the back of a pickup truck and beat him almost to death before shooting him in the head. The boy's body was later found, tethered to a cotton gin fan, in the Tallahatchie River. "Can't you take it?" she recalled his saying. When Donham had testified in the Till case she said that the teen Till grabbed her and verbally threatened her. The manuscript is being kept at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill library.

"She was glad things had changed [and she] thought the old system of white supremacy was wrong, though she had more or less taken it as normal at the time", Tyson told Vanity Fair.

He had been mutilated, and his mother's decision to hold an open-casket funeral with his unrecognizable face on full display was instrumental in drawing attention to his case and has been credited with "reigniting a widespread passion for the Civil Rights Movement".