1955 warrant for white woman in Emmett Till kidnapping case found, family seeks arrest

JACKSON, Miss – A team investigating a Mississippi court basement for evidence of the lynching of black teenager Emmett Till has found the invalid indictment accusing a white woman of kidnapping him in 1955 and the victim’s relatives want authorities to finally arrest her almost 70 years later.

An arrest warrant for Carolyn Bryant Donham – identified as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” in the document – was discovered last week by investigators in a dossier placed in a box, a Leflore county official told the Associated Press. Elmus Stockstill. on Wednesday.

Documents are kept in boxes every decade, he said, but there was nothing else to show where the warrant could be, dated August 29, 1955.

“They limited it between the ’50s and’ 60s and they were lucky,” said Stockstill, who certified the warrant as genuine.

The search team included members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and two of Till’s relatives: cousin Deborah Watts, head of the foundation. and her daughter, Teri Watts. Relatives want authorities to use the warrant to arrest Donham, who at the time of the murder was married to one of two white men who were tried and acquitted a few weeks after Till was abducted from a relative’s home, killed and thrown into a river.

“Serve it and charge it,” Teri Watts told the AP in an interview.

Keith Beauchamp, whose documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” preceded a renewed Justice Department investigation that ended without charge in 2007, was also part of the investigation. He said there was enough evidence that Donham was being prosecuted.

Donham started the case in August 1955, accusing 14-year-old Till of making improper advances to a family store in Money, Mississippi. A cousin of Till who was there said that Till whistled at the woman, an act that was contrary to the racist social codes of Mississippi at the time.

Evidence suggests that a woman, possibly Donham, identified Till to the men who later killed him. The arrest warrant against Donham was made public at the time, but Leflor County Sheriff told reporters he did not want to “bother” the woman as he had two young children to care for.

Now in her 80s and most recently living in North Carolina, Donham has not publicly commented on calls for her prosecution. But Teri Watts said the Till family believes the warrant accusing Donham of kidnapping is tantamount to new evidence.

“This is what the state of Mississippi needs to move forward,” he said.

Prosecutor Dwayne Richardson, whose office would prosecute a case, declined to comment on the warrant, but cited a December report on the Till case by the Justice Department, which said prosecution was not possible.

“This is the first time I know about a warrant,” Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Banks, who was seven when Till was killed, said “nothing was said about the warrant” when a former prosecutor investigated the case five or six years ago.

“I will see if I can get a copy of the warrant and contact the DA and get their opinion on it,” Banks said. If the warrant can be served, Banks said, he should speak to law enforcement officials in the state where Donham lives.

Arrest warrants can be “stale” due to time and changing circumstances, and one from 1955 is almost certain not to be taken to court, even if a sheriff agreed to serve it, said Ronald J. Rychlak, a law professor. at the University of Mississippi.

But combined with any new evidence, the original arrest warrant “absolutely” could be an important step in finding a possible cause for a new prosecution, he said.

“If you were going to a judge, you could say, ‘Once upon a time a judge thought there was a possible cause, and a lot more information is available today,'” Rychlak said.

Till, who was from Chicago, was visiting relatives in Mississippi when he entered the store where Donham, then 21, worked on August 24, 1955. A relative of Till who was there, Wheeler Parker, told the AP that Till whistled at the woman. Donham testified in court that Till abducted her and made a lewd comment.

Two nights later, Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, JW Milam, appeared armed at Till’s uncle Mose Wright in Leflore County Farm, searching for the youth. Till’s brutal body, bored by a fan, was pulled from a river days later to another county. His mother’s decision to open the coffin so that mourners in Chicago could see what had happened helped mobilize the political rights movement of the time.

Bryant and Milam were acquitted of the murder, but later confessed to the murder in a magazine interview. While both men were named in the same warrant accusing Donham of kidnapping, authorities did not pursue the case after their acquittal.

Wright testified during the murder trial that a man with a voice “lighter” than that of a man, Till from inside a truck and the kidnappers took him away. Other FBI records show that earlier that night, Donham told her husband that at least two other blacks were not the right person.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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1955 warrant for white woman in Emmett Till kidnapping case found, family seeks arrest Source link 1955 warrant for white woman in Emmett Till kidnapping case found, family seeks arrest

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