The renewed investigation into the horrendous murder of Emmett Till was prompted by a 2017 book that revealed lies by a key figure in the 1955 case. The book “The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B. Tyson quotes, Carolyn Donham, during a 2008 interview stating that she “wasn’t truthful” when she testified that the black teen grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances toward her at a Mississippi store in 1955.
Tyson informed reporters that he was contacted by the FBI weeks after his book was published in January 2017 and he provided them with interview recordings and other research materials. He didn’t believe his research alone would support new charges, but said investigators may be able to link it to other material in their possession.
A potential witness, who was with then 14-year-old Till at the store that day, cousin Wheeler Parker said he has spoken with law enforcement in recent months. District Attorney Dewayne Richardson stated “it’s probably always an open case until all parties have passed away.” Rob Bryant, Donham’s then husband and his half brother J.W Milam were charged with murder, but acquitted in the slaying of Till. The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview, but weren’t retried. Both men are now deceased.
Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy foundation, said its “wonderful” that her cousin’s case is getting another look but refused to give any specifics surrounding the reopening of the case. “None of us want to do anything that jeopardizes any investigation or impedes, but we are also very interested in justice being served,” she said.
Abducted from the residence where he was staying, fourteen-years-old at the time Till was beaten, shot and his body was found weighed down with a cotton gin fan in a river. Mamie Till, his mother, had his casket kept open. She wanted the world to witness his mutilated body in hopes it would shed light on the depths of racial hatred in the deep South which sparked many Civil Rights campaigns.
The year Emmett Till was beaten and murdered my mother was 3. Her older brother was 15. My grandparents are from Grenada and Jackson, Mississippi. My uncle could’ve been EMMETT TILL. Your cousin, uncle or grandfather could’ve been EMMETT TILL. 63 years later the case has been RE-OPENED & I pray some justice is served. The image of his face has never left my mind. The realization that a LIE cost a 14-year-old BOY his life & NOTHING has changed since then is more than troubling.