Official: Renewed Emmett Till probe prompted by 2017 book

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A renewed investigation into the brutal murder of Emmett Till was asked by a 2017 book that is revealed is located on a major figure in the 1955 case that helped build the momentum for the civil rights movement, a federal official said Thursday.

A federal official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that the information that is published in the book led federal investigators to re-examine the case. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The reopening of the case was revealed in a federal report sent to the legislators in March that said the Ministry of Justice had received unspecified “new information”.

The book, “The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B. Tyson cites a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as saying in 2008 during an interview that they are not honest when she testified that the black teen grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances on a Mississippi store in 1955.

Tyson told reporters Thursday that he was approached by the FBI weeks after his book was published in January 2017, and he furnished them with interview recordings and other research material. He does not think that his research would only have the support of the new charges, but said that the researchers may need to link it to other material in their possession.

“It is possible that the research will prove what. But there is nothing that I know of, and nothing in my research, that is useful, I don’t think so,” he said. “But I ‘m not a lawyer or a detective.”

A potential witness with the 14-year-old in the shop that day, cousin Wheeler Parker, said Thursday that he has spoken with the police about the case in the past few months.

A Mississippi prosecutor, declined to comment on the question of whether the federal government had given him new information, because they are reopening the investigation.

“It is probably always an open case until all the parties have died,” said district attorney Dewayne Richardson, of which the circuit is provided in the community where up To and was kidnapped.

It is unclear what the new rates could result from a renewed investigation, said Tucker Carrington, a professor at the University of Mississippi law school.

Conspiracy and murder charges could be filed if someone is still alive is demonstrated in concerned, he said, but too much time has probably passed to the prosecuting anyone and for committing other crimes, such as lying to investigators or in court.

The case was closed in 2007, the authorities say that the suspects were dead; a state of the grand jury not to file a new rates.

Two white men — Donham then a man, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J. W. Milam — were accused of murder, but acquitted in the killing of Chicago To toe, who had been staying with family in northern Mississippi in the time. The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview, but not tried. Both of them are now dead.

Donham, who turns 84 this month, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. A man who came to the door at her house declined to comment on the FBI’s reopening of the investigation.

“We don’t want to talk to you,” said the man, before going back inside.

The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on the status of the investigation. Family members of To pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the re-opening of the case last year after the publication of the book.

The government has examined 115 cases involving 128 victims under the “cold case” entitled with the name for Till, the report said. Only one resulted in a federal conviction since the law came into force, that the Ku Klux Klansman James Ford Seale for the kidnapping of two black teenagers, Charles Moore and Henry Dee, who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964.

Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said that the “beautiful” her cousin, the dead, is getting another look, but she didn’t want to discuss details.

“None of us want to do anything that will jeopardise any investigation or hinders, but we are also very interested in justice being done,” she said.

Kidnapped from the house where he was staying, and was beaten and shot, and his body was found weighted down by a cotton gin fan in a river. His mother, Mamie Till, had his chest left open. The images of his mutilated body gave testimony to the depth of the racial hatred in the Deep South and inspired the civil rights campaigns.

Donham, 21 and known as Carolyn Bryant, testified in 1955 as a prospective defense witness in the trial of Bryant and Milam. With jurors out of the courtroom, she said that a “negro man,” she did not know took her by the arm into the store.

“He said,” how about a date, baby?'” she testified, according to a trial transcript released by the FBI a decade ago. Bryant said she pulled away, and moments later, the young man took me by the cashier,” grab her around the waist with both hands and pull her to him.

A judge ruled the testimony inadmissible. An all-white jury freed from her husband and the other man even without.

In the book, the author Tyson wrote that Donham told him her testimony about To accosting her was not true.

“There is nothing the boy did could ever justify what happened to him is,” the book quotes her as saying.


Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles, Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi, and Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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