DOJ reopens Emmett Till case after ‘new information’ arises: report

Federal investigators have reopened a decades-old investigation into the lynching of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was killed in Mississippi. 

The Justice Department announced in a March report to Congress that it has reopened Till’s 1955 killing after receiving “new information,” The Associated Press reported Thursday.

The case was closed in 2007 after authorities said the suspects had died and the state grand jury didn’t file any charges.


Till’s cousin, Deborah Watts, said she was not told the case was reopened until the AP contacted her but said it was “wonderful.”

“None of us wants to do anything that jeopardizes any investigation or impedes, but we are also very interested in justice being done,” she told the outlet, declining to discuss specifics.

The Justice Department declined to comment to the AP about the investigation.

An explosive book by Timothy B. Tyson titled “The Blood of Emmett Till,” out last year, and alleges that Carolyn Donham, the white woman at the center of the case, admitted to lying about the events leading up to the lynching.

Donham told police in 1955 that Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago, whistled at her and tried to grab her inside a store in Money, Miss.

Till was later abducted from the home he was staying at for the summer and was beaten and shot.

His body was later found in the Tallahatchie River, weighed down by a cotton gin.

Pictures of his mutilated body during his funeral helped spark the civil rights movement, the AP noted.

Tyson quotes a 2008 interview with Donham in his book, acknowledging that she lied during her testimony.

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Donham says in the book.

Donham’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with the murder but were later acquitted by an all-white jury.

Both men later confessed in a magazine interview but have since died, AP reported.

Donham, who will be 84 this month, currently lives in Raleigh, N.C., and declined comment to the AP.

Tags Carolyn Donham Civil rights movement Emmett Till Emmett Till Justice Department Mississippi Mississippi Money

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