Photo by: GETTY Image
The family of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black child who was kidnapped, tortured, and killed in Mississippi in 1955, has uncovered an unserved, 70-year-old warrant accusing his white female accuser of kidnapping and is now seeking for her arrest.
Last week, the 1955 warrant for Carolyn Bryant Donham was discovered by family members and members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation when they were looking for evidence in the infamous murder case in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse.
According to The Associated Press Elmus Stockstill, the circuit clerk for Leflore County reported that the group located the warrant last week inside a file folder that had been put in a box.
According to Stockstill, who verified the warrant’s authenticity, “They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s and got lucky.”
The head of the foundation, Deborah Watts, and her daughter Teri Watts, two of Till’s relatives, were a part of Legacy foundation collective in the search party. The family is now calling for Donham’s arrest once more in light of the discovery.
“Serve it and charge her,” Teri Watts, the daughter of Till’s cousin Deborah Watts, told the Associated Press.
According to Watts, the Till family considers the recently obtained warrant, which accuses Donham of kidnapping, to be fresh proof.
When Donham, then Carolyn Bryant, was working the register at her family’s store in Money, Mississippi, in August 1955, she accused the 14-year-old of making inappropriate approaches and vulgar remarks toward her.
Donham was 21 years old at the time.
According to a cousin who saw the incident, Till, who was visiting from Chicago, allegedly whistled at her.
Such an interaction broke the rules of Southern racism during the Jim Crow era.
Donham disclosed the alleged encounter to Roy Bryant, her husband.
Bryant and his half-brother John William Milam took the young teen from his great-uncle’s house two nights later, beat him, shot him, and dumped his body in a river because they were furious that a black male had supposedly come on to Donham, a white woman.
According to case testimony, a woman—possibly Donham—identified Till to his killers, leading to the issuance of a warrant for her arrest.
At the time of Emmet Till’s murder, the family was not given justice.
An all-white jury cleared Bryant and Milam of the murder charge; nevertheless, a year later, they admitted to the crime in magazine interviews.
Mamie Till-Mobley, Till’s mother, decided to have an open-casket burial so that the world could see what the two white men had done to her son.
This gave the civil rights movement more traction. Till was a sad movement figure after his death.
The Northern District of Mississippi US Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the recently discovered warrant.
In December 2021, the Justice Department ended an earlier inquiry of the historic case without filing any fresh charges.
Ronald Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi, asserts that if no fresh proof is provided, unsealed arrest warrants may be subject to a time limit.
The Till family considers the warrant to be new evidence in and of itself.
“This is what the state of Mississippi needs to go ahead,” Watts said.