Justice Department Reopens Emmett Till Murder Investigation After 63 Years


The savage murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, has been reopened, according to a US Justice Department report to Congress.

Till’s body was found horribly mangled at the bottom of the Tallahatchie River with a cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire, Photo by: Hobbservation Point

The 1955 homicide, inhumane even in an era in which blacks in the South undergone untold barbarity, was listed in a March report among “activities” the department was following under the 2007 unsolved civil rights crime act that bears Emmett’s name. The act clears the way for the department to “expeditiously investigate” unsolved pre-1980 civil rights murders.

The Department of Justice apprised Congress in a report in March that it is reopening the Till case after “the discovery of new information,” which was not elaborated. The determination was first reported on Thursday by The Associated Press.

Emmett Till’s casket, Photo by: Smithsonian Magazine

“The Till case has been re-opened by DOJ based upon the discovery of new information,” the department said in March. It did not specify. The department declined to speak further on the matter.

Till was falsely accused of flirting with and making advances at then-21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, who, along with her spouse, Roy, owned a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Till had journeyed there from Chicago to visit his great-uncle, who lived in the area. Four days later, the teenager was abducted from his bed in the middle of the night of August 28, 1955, and callously beaten and shot.

A month later or so, after the teen’s body was pulled from the river, an all-white jury acquitted Roy Bryant and another man, J.W. Milam, of Emmett’s murder, in spite of eyewitnesses identifying the defendants.

In closing arguments, the defense team catered to jurors’ heritage, expressing their ancestors would ‘turn in their graves if they didn’t free these fine, white men’. Deliberations hardly took an hour, and one juror contended the acquittal could have come sooner had they not stopped to have a soda pop.


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Aaron Granger


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