1955 murder of lynched black US teen re-investigated

An investigation into the murder of a black teenager who was lynched after allegedly flirting with a white woman in 1955 has been reopened by the federal US government.

The decision follows the publication last year of a book called The Blood Of Emmett Till, in which the woman admitted being untruthful when she gave evidence against the 14-year-old.

Carolyn Donham claimed Till had accosted her, but told author Timothy B Tyson it was untrue.

"Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him," she said.

With the main suspects long dead, the case had been closed since 2007.

But the Justice Department told Congress in a report in March that it was re-investigating the killing after receiving "new information".

It is not clear from the report what that information might be, but relatives of Till asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen the case after the book was published.

Image: The site of Emmett Till's grave at Burr Oak Cemetery in Illinois

Till was abducted from his great-uncle's house in Money, Mississippi, beaten and shot.

His body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River and weighed down with a heavy fan, before being discovered three days later.

Ms Donham, who was 21 when the incident occurred and known as Carolyn Bryant, told a court in 1955 that Emmett Till took her arm in her family's grocery store and asked: "How about a date, baby?"

Moments after pulling away, she said the teenager "caught me at the cash register", grasped her around the waist with both hands and pulled her towards him.

"What's the matter baby, can't you take it?", she claimed he said.

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".

The evidence, which was heard after jurors had been sent out, was ruled inadmissible by the judge.

A plaque at the base of a tree planted in honour of Emmett Till at the US Capitol in Washington DC
Image: A plaque at the base of a tree planted in honour of Emmett Till in Washington DC

Two white men – Ms Donham's then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother JW Milam – were charged with murder but acquitted.

They later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but could not be retried under double jeopardy rules.

Milam died in 1980 at the age of 61, and Bryant died in 1994 at the age of 63.

More from Mississippi

Till's remains were returned to Chicago where his mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket.

Images of his mutilated body, published in newspapers and magazines, focused intense scrutiny on the lack of black civil rights in Mississippi.

Original Article

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