Murder of black teen that sparked US civil rights movement reopened

13 July, 2018, 03:01 | Author: Wade Massey
  • DOJ reopens Emmett Till case after ‘new information’ arises report

The 2017 book "The Blood of Emmett Till" by Timothy B. Tyson quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as saying during a 2008 interview that she wasn't truthful when she testified that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a MS store in 1955.

Tyson said the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed him previous year, and he turned over all research materials, including a memoir Donham wrote that he said would not be published until after her death.

According to History, author Tim Tyson - who wrote 2017's "The Blood of Emmett Till" - wrote that Carolyn Bryant later recanted her testimony, and said that young Emmett had never touched, harassed, or threatened her at all.

Known as "Bobo" to those who loved him, Emmett's savage murder jolted a nation, spurring it to action on civil rights.

Till's cousin, Wheeler Parker, said Thursday he's "pretty sure" an investigator asked him about what happened in a MS store the day Till whistled at a white woman before his slaying in 1955.

Till's cousin Parker, 79, said he is "pretty sure" an investigator asked him about what happened in the store but the conversation occurred months ago, and he said he has a hard time remembering details. But Parker says the discussion likely occurred after the release of a book that raised questions about the Till case previous year.

Ms Bryant also said he told her "you don't need to be afraid of me", alleging he used an obscenity and mentioning something he had done "with white women before". "We're just like everyone else, waiting for new information", Parker said in a phone interview from Mississippi.

It's unclear what, if any, new charges the federal government will be able to bring in Till's murder.

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University of MS law professor Tucker Carrington says conspiracy or murder charges could be filed if anyone still alive is shown to have been involved. Her husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, later snatched Till from his bed in the middle of the night.

The Justice Department has told Congress it reopened an investigation of Till's slaying after receiving "new information".

"They could have made this announcement a year ago, but they saved it for a time they're in trouble about their racial politics", he said.

A MS prosecutor declined comment Thursday on whether federal authorities had given him new information since they reopened the probe.

The Justice Department declined to comment Thursday, but it appeared that the government had chosen to devote new attention to the case after Donham, in an interview with Tyson, recanted parts of her account of what transpired in August 1955. But he says it's always open until everyone involved has died. An all-white jury freed her husband and the other man even without it. The 1955 trial was held in Tallahatchie County, which isn't in Richardson's district.

The report issued in late March doesn't indicate what that information might be. 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. In court, but without jurors present, she claimed that Emmett had made physical contact with her and spoken in crude, sexual language.

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

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