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Emmett Till Murder Investigation Reopened Due to 'New Information'

13 July 2018

The US government has reopened its investigation into the 1955 murder of a black teenager whose brutal killing helped inspire the civil rights movement.

The U.S. Department of Justice is reopening the 63-year-old Emmett Till case after acquiring "new information" about the case.

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 Justice Department has told Congress it reopened an investigation of Till's slaying after receiving "new information". The Chicago teenager was visiting relatives in MS when 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, a white woman, accused him of making a pass at her in the small-town grocery store she and her husband owned.

The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but weren't retried. Both are now dead.

According to the Associated Press, Carolyn Bryant - who will turn 84 years old this month and goes by Carolyn Donham - lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. The entire tragedy became a focal point in the Civil Rights movement, and is still a cautionary tale of America's history today. "We're happy to have that be the case so that ultimately or finally someone can be held responsible for his murder", said Johnson, who leads the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University. Although it has not been confirmed by the Justice Department, her confession is most likely the new evidence that was cited when the case was reopened.

Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said it's "wonderful" her cousin's killing is getting another look but she didn't want to discuss details. Only one resulted in in a federal conviction since the act became law, that of Ku Klux Klansman James Ford Seale for kidnapping two black teenagers, Charles Moore and Henry Dee, who were killed in MS in 1964.

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Relatives of Till who have tried to get the case reopened since the release of the book, are grateful for the newfound efforts.

Because of Donham's lies, Till abducted and mangled before being lethally shot and dumped in the Tallahatchie 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.

Donham, then 21 and known as Carolyn Bryant, testified in 1955 as a prospective defense witness in the trial of Bryant and Milam. Deliberations barely took an hour, and one juror claimed the acquittal could've come sooner had they not stopped to have a soda. The book says the woman acknowledged she wasn't truthful when she testified that the 14-year-old Till grabbed her.

The Duke University scholar says he shared materials including recordings of 2008 interviews with a white woman, Carolyn Donham, acknowledging that she wasn't truthful when she testified that Till made sexual advances at a MS store in 1955. However, in 2007 she spoke with author Timothy Tyson, who published the book The Blood of Emmitt Till.

Though a judge ruled Carolyn's testimony inadmissible in court, her husband and Milam were quickly acquitted.

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".

Emmett Till Murder Investigation Reopened Due to 'New Information'