A Mississippi grand jury has declined to indict the white woman who lied when she accused teen boy, Emmett Till of accosting her in her husband’s store. That false accusation brought about the kidnapping, torture and lynching Till nearly 70 years ago.
Carolyn Bryant Donham penned a recently revealed memoir in which she recanted her statements that the child had behaved or spoken inappropriately to her. An unserved arrest warrant was also recently discovered according to a prosecutor.
In a news release, Leflore County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson said the grand jury considered evidence and testimony regarding Carolyn Bryant Donham’s involvement in the kidnapping and death of Till.
After some seven hours of testimony from investigators and witnesses, the grand jury determined that there was not sufficient evidence to indict Donham. The jury’s decision to decline to charge Donham makes it unlikely that she will ever be prosecuted for her role in causing the events that directly brought about Till’s death.
Donham, then 21, accused the 14 year old of making lewd comments and grabbing her as she worked at a family store in Money, Mississippi. Donham has enjoyed freedom every since. She is 87 today.
The AP reports the unserved arrest warrant charging Donham, her then-husband Roy Bryant and brother-in-law J.W. Milam was discovered by a group searching the basement of the Leflore County Courthouse in June. The men were arrested and acquitted on murder charges after a jury deliberated barely an hour. However, for causing Till’s slaying, Donham was never taken into custody.
In an unpublished memoir obtained last month by The Associated Press, Donham said she didn’t know what would happen to the Chicago boy, who was in Mississippi visiting relatives. Donham wrote in the manuscript that the men brought Till to her in the middle of the night for identification but that she tried to help the youth by denying it was the child she accused. Despite being abducted at gunpoint from a family home by Roy Bryant and Milam, the 14-year-old identified himself to the men, she claimed.
Till’s battered, mutilated body was found days later in a river, where it was weighted down with a heavy metal fan. The decision by his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, to open Till’s casket for his funeral in Chicago has been considered a galvanizing moment in the civil rights movement.
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