Emmett Till Investigation Closed, Lack of Support of Key Witness Lying

In Summary

The Justice Department closed the Emmett Till killing investigation due to lack of evidence that a key witness lied. 

The Justice Department has closed the investigation for the killing of Emmett Till because of the lack of support that a woman at the center of the case lied to federal investigators.  

During the Jim Crow era more than 60 years ago, a white woman alleged that Till, a 14-year-old Black boy, made sexual advances at her, according to CNN. As Till was visiting his Mississippi family in 1955, bystanders claim Till whistled at Carolyn Bryant Donham, who at the time was 20 years old. Donham also reported that Till took hold of her arm and told her he’d been with “white women before.”  

One of the last living witnesses, Professor Timothy Tyson, believed his evidence would be a crucial piece of information in helping investigators pinpoint what actually occurred. In 2007, the Justice Department reopened the case and decided the evidence at the time would not be enough to prosecute someone at a federal level.  

In a 2008 interview, it was discovered that Donham claimed that Till’s statement was not true. Considering that Donham’s “not true” statement wasn’t recorded or transcribed, authorities had no proof of a confession.  

“My reporting is rock solid,” Tyson said in a statement to CNN. “Carolyn Bryant denies it and avoids talking about it like it was the plague. I am standing in the public square telling the truth as I see it based on solid evidence.” 

The Justice Department’s head of the Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, connected with Till’s remaining family to inform them on their decision to close the case.  

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