Emmett Till slaying: Government reopens investigation, probing 'new information'

Emmett Till slaying: Government reopens investigation, probing 'new information'

The murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, barbarous even in an era in which blacks in the South were subjected to untold viciousness, has been reopened, according to a US Justice Department report to Congress. The entire tragedy became a focal point in the Civil Rights movement, and is still a cautionary tale of America's history today.

Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago, was visiting relatives in rural MS when he was accused of whistling and making sexual advances at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant.

Donham's then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with murder but later acquitted in Till's slaying.

Thanks to Donham's falsified testimony, Till was abducted and mutilated before being fatally shot and dumped in the Tallahatchie River.

Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted that her son's disfigured body be displayed in an open-casket funeral.

Emmett's savage murder in 1955 jolted a nation, spurring it to action on civil rights.

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Although two white men eventually confessed to a magazine that they had killed Till, they had previously been acquitted by a MS jury.

The DOJ's move to reopen the case came after "receiving new information", it said in a report to Congress. But it was issued in late March after 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. "He said, 'What's the matter baby, can't you take it?'" she testified. She resisted and pulled away, but Till approached her and got her by the waist, she said. 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".

Donham, who will be 84 this month, now lives in Raleigh, N.C. and declined comment to the AP.

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. The government has not announced any new charges in connection with its investigation, and it is unclear whether prosecutors will ultimately be able to bring a case against anyone.

In this September 23, 1955, file photo, J.W. Milam, left, his wife, second left, Roy Bryant, far right, and his wife, Carolyn Bryant, sit together in a courtroom in Sumner, Miss.

A MS prosecutor isn't saying whether federal authorities have given him any new information since they reopened an investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till in 1955.

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