Emmett Till Accuser Carolyn Bryant Donham Officially Won't Be Charged

The lynching of Emmet Till is lauded as the tragedy that birthed the Civil Rights Movement. After being accused of whistling at a white woman in southern Mississippi in 1955, Till was kidnapped, beaten, brutally murdered, and disfigured before being tied to a  cotton gin fan. His body was discovered in the Tallahatchie River. He was 14 years old at the time and not used to the Southern Jim Crow way of life. Till was visiting family from Chicago, Illinois. No one has ever been charged with his death. And just recently, a grand jury said that it found insufficient evidence to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham, 87, the woman at the center of the allegations, on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter.

UPI reports that Donham's then-husband, Roy Bryant, and brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, are responsible for the killing after she told them Till whistled at her in their store. "The murder of Emmett Till remains an unforgettable tragedy in this country, and the thoughts and prayers of this nation continue to be with the family of Emmett Till," District Attorney Dewayne Richardson said in a statement. She later confessed that she lied about the whole incident to her husband and brother-in-law. She's remained largely out of the public eye but was recently spotted at a hospice center.

In June 2022, a team of researchers, including Till's relatives, found an unserved arrest warrant for Donham in the basement of a courthouse in Greenwood, Mississippi. As a result, Till's foundation called for Carolyn to be charged. Jurors eventually heard seven hours of testimony from witnesses in the original case.

"Although prosecutors do not arrest people nor do prosecutors serve arrest warrants, the existence of the 1955 warrant along with additional information confirmed the decision to present this matter to the next regularly scheduled Leflore County Grand Jury," Richardson said.

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Till's story was recently highlighted in an ABC mini-series produced by Jay-Z. A trailer for the upcoming biopic Till was recently released.