Department of Justice Closes Further Investigation Into the Murder of Emmett Till

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66 years after his unjust murder, the cold case of Emmett Till, once re-opened, has now been closed with no further charges.

The federal investigation that re-examined the murder of Emmett Till was closed on Monday after the Justice Department failed to find any substantial evidence that a key figure in the case lied, the New York Times reports. 

Over 60 years later, the case was prompted to reopen after author Timothy Tyson’s book, The Blood of Emmett Till, claimed that Carolyn Bryant Donham fabricated parts of her testimony. In her initial testimony, she claimed Till grabbed her hand and her waist, and then told her that he had “been with white women before.” Citing the statute of limitations and that Dunham repeatedly denied that she had ever changed her story , the Justice Department said they could not prosecute Donham for perjury.

While visiting family in Mississippi in 1955, according to a witness, 14-year-old Till allegedly whistled at Donham as she left the market with Roy Bryant, her husband at the time. A few days later, Bryant, along with half-brother J.W. Milam, captured, tortured, and shot Till. Then they tied a 75-pound cotton gin fan around his neck and threw his body into a river. His mutilated corpse was discovered on August 31, 1955.

When the testimony of the trial was brought back up in a 2008 interview, Tyson said Donham told him “that part’s not true” when explaining that her claims of Till propositioning her was false. However, when Donham was questioned by federal investigators, she maintained her innocence, denying that she lied in any portion of her testimony, according to a source close to the case.

Authorities at the Justice Department are planning to release a memo after they brief Till’s family in Chicago.

In an emailed statement, Tyson stood by his reporting, describing Donham as “unreliable.”

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