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(AP Photo, File)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till, the black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi shocked the world and helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.

The Justice Department told Congress in a report in March it is reinvestigating Till’s slaying in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 after receiving “new information.” The case was closed in 2007 with authorities saying the suspects were dead; a state grand jury didn’t file any new charges.

Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The federal report, sent annually to lawmakers under a law that bears Till’s name, does not indicate what the new information might be.

But it was issued in late March following the publication last year of “The Blood of Emmett Till,” a book that says a key figure in the case acknowledged lying about events preceding the slaying of the 14-year-old youth from Chicago.

The book, by Timothy B. Tyson, quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as acknowledging during a 2008 interview that she wasn’t truthful when she testified that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a store in 1955.

Two white men — Donham’s then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam — were charged with murder but acquitted in the slaying of Till, who had been staying with relatives in northern Mississippi at the time. The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview, but weren’t retried. Both are now dead.

Donham, who turns 84 this month, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. A man who came to the door at her residence declined to comment about the FBI reopening the investigation.

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

Paula Johnson, co-director of an academic group that reviews unsolved civil rights slayings, said she can’t think of anything other than Tyson’s book that could have prompted the Justice Department to reopen the Till investigation.

“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.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the status of the probe.

Watts, Till’s cousin and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said it’s “wonderful” that the killing is getting another look, but didn’t want to discuss details.

“None of us wants to do anything that jeopardizes any investigation or impedes, but we are also very interested in justice being done,” she said.

Abducted from the home where he was staying, Till was beaten and shot, and his mutilated body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River. Images of his mutilated body in the casket gave witness to the depth of racial hatred in the Deep South and helped build momentum for subsequent civil rights campaigns.

Relatives of Till pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen the case last year following publication of the book.

Donham, then known as Carolyn Bryant and 21 years old at the time, testified in 1955 as a prospective defense witness in the trial of Bryant and Milam. With jurors out of the courtroom, she said a “nigger man” she didn’t know took her by the arm.

“Just what did he say when he grabbed your hand?” defense attorney Sidney Carlton asked, according to a trial transcript released by the FBI a decade ago.

“He said, ‘How about a date, baby?'” she testified. Bryant said she pulled away, and moments later the young man “caught me at the cash register,” grasping her around the waist with both hands and pulling her toward him.

“He said, ‘What’s the matter baby, can’t you take it?'” she testified. Bryant also said he told her “you don’t need to be afraid of me,” claiming that he used an obscenity and mentioned something he had done “with white women before.”

A judge ruled the testimony inadmissible. An all-white jury freed her husband and the other man even without it. Testimony indicated a woman might have been in a car with Bryant and Milam when they abducted Till, but no one else was ever charged.

In the book, author Tyson wrote that Donham told him her testimony about Till accosting her wasn’t true.

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” the book quotes her as saying.

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, introduced legislation this week that would make the government release information about unsolved civil rights killings. In an interview, Jones said the Till killing or any other case likely wouldn’t be covered by this legislation if authorities were actively investigating.

“You’d have to leave it to the judgment of some of law enforcement agencies that are involved or the commission that would be created” to consider materials for release, Jones said.

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16 thoughts on “Government Reopens Probe Of Emmett Till Slaying

  1. J. Johnson on said:

    This woman should be jailed. She lied which cause his death. She then lied on the witness stand. She needs to be placed in Jail for the rest of her life. she doesn’t deserve to finish her days in freedom….. and to all you Trump haters. Trump is the best think to happen to all of us. Stop the hatred. Love Trumps Hate

  2. This so called reopening is a joke. This country is a joke. This fake prez and is whole fake administration is a joke.

  3. Amber on said:

    It is sad that it took all these years before this woman admitted she lied. See, when you falsely accused someone and caused pain to the person, you must admit it before you leave this world. people have died, put in prison, reputations destroyed because of lies like this (and it still goes on today.. and yes, as back then, people, especially whites, believed the lies).

  4. Mac Daddy not Baby Daddy on said:

    Emmett started a revolution that is now stronger 60 years later. Black men’s obsession with white women.

    • African American Woman on said:

      What an absolutely disgusting and disrespectful thing to say about an innocent boy who was tortured and killed because some racist bitch lied. I hope her whole life was shit and if she goes to jail, I hope some inmates show her justice.

    • Eagleye on said:

      And your thirst for white women is soooo obvious, as you well intended for all to know, in your comments. Who’s can you criticize? Go sit your tired ass down, and stop being so repulsive! MACSHITTY!

  5. Ronald Anthony on said:

    Wow! First they pardon Jack Johnson and now its justice for Emmett Till. Things are looking up for the black man.

    • Yeah! And it’s all down to that “racist” Donald Trump. Or would you say it’s because of the policies Obama put in place to give Trump credit after Pbama left office? That would be stretching the truth, would it not?

  6. specialt757 on said:

    Re open for what? The world knows the truth and always has. Sessions is not doing this country a favor, just distracting us from what’s really going on, and trying to throw us a bone. FUCK him and the racists mothafuckas that are responsible. They have already been dealt with, our plan or punishment is no match for God’s.
    To the white BITCH who put the ball in motion, I hope whatever ailments she suffers with makes her suffer 10x worse than young Mr. Till. And when she dies, they wont be able to have an opened casket. FUCK all her living relatives too, they go straight to hell like this heifer.

  7. tedgravely on said:

    Let Emmett Rest In Peace. GOD will serve the ultimate justice. GOD has allowed that dried up ugly racist white woman to outlive Emmett’s mother, her racist husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam. GOD has a righteous sense of justice. That lying white woman set the wheels in motion for the death of a young boy that will be forever seared into the ugliness of U.S. history. Mamie was a strong woman to demand that the funeral would be open casket. GOD has allowed that racist white woman years to repent. She had years to confess and make it right with HIM and man’s justice system. This racist isn’t getting away with anything. The only person, I grieved for besides Emmett was his beautiful mother Mamie. Since she can no longer get true justice for her son, let them Rest In Peace. Keebler Sessions isn’t that guy. Sessions born in Selma AL was about 9 years old when Emmett was murdered. After all these years you really think this matters to him. This is a smoke screen for something. Black people don’t get fooled. So you convict the old raggedy racist that told a lie, but let the men who murdered live free until their deaths. Nothing the US Justice system does now will ever get Emmett justice.

  8. African American Woman on said:

    Thank God! I pray that some form of justice is served and that murderous, lying bitch spends the rest of her miserable life behind bars…double jeopardy does not factor here…there is new evidence available to present that was not presented during the first trial, so charges can be brought. This tragedy of Emmitt Till and the ugly racism and hate that existed at that time has bothered me since I was 10 years old.

  9. Unless the US gov’t is going to apprehend and prosecute that lying BITCH-Mrs. Bryant-
    WHO BY THE WAY IS STILL LIVING-it is a moot point.

    Bryant’s husband and others bragged about the fact they GOT AWAY WITH MURDER.
    Unfortunately, due to DOUBLE JEOPARDY-those turds could not be RE-TRIED AGAIN.

    GO AFTER THAT C–T WHO LIED AND CAUSED THE UGLY BRUTAL DEATH OF THAT INNOCENT YOUNG MAN, EMMETT TILL.

  10. americanize on said:

    You want to close this case arrest that evil bit*h who cause the savage death of a 14yr old child.But you know the white supremacist will protect this white supremacist female savage.Black America you have no friends.

  11. Lena Johnson on said:

    This attempt at opening the Emmett Till investigation is only a distraction from the real issues. For one, it is distracting from the Supreme Court nomination and other more important and relevant issues facing the United States.

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