Friday, September 30, 2022

Federal Officials Close Emmett Till Ahead of TV Show and Documentary

*The Department of Justice announced earlier this month that it is closing the cold case investigation into the murder of Emmett Till. The move comes ahead of the release of a six-part limited TV series and documentary about the death of the teenager. 

Till was age 14 when he went to visit family in Mississippi and was killed after being accused of whistling at a white woman named Carolyn Bryant. Till was kidnapped by a group of white supremacists and viciously beaten before his body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River. 

Bryant’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with Till’s murder and but an all-white jury acquitted them for the crime. The two men later confessed to the killing in a paid magazine interview.

READ MORE: ABC Orders Limited Series on Emmett Till Murder and His Mother’s Fight for Justice

The case was re-opened in 2017 after Timothy Tyson published the book “The Blood of Emmett Till,” which claimed Bryant had recanted her testimony that Till made sexual advances toward her.  When interviewed by the FBI, Bryant denied that she recanted her testimony, and since the FBI lacked sufficient evidence to prove she lied, the case was closed. 

It is widely believed that Bryant is dead but she is actually married and living in Mississippi and known as Carolyn Bryant Donham.

In a letter to Till’s family, the Justice Department called the his murder “one of the most horrific examples of the violence routinely inflicted upon Black residents.” 

The DOJ said in a statement:

The woman however, when asked about the alleged recantation, denied to the FBI that she ever recanted her testimony and provided no information beyond what was uncovered during the previous federal investigation. Although lying to the FBI is a federal offense, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she lied to the FBI when she denied having recanted to the professor. There is insufficient evidence to prove that she ever told the professor that any part of her testimony was untrue. Although the professor represented that he had recorded two interviews with her, he provided the FBI with only one recording, which did not contain any recantation. In addition, although an assistant transcribed the two recordings, neither transcript contained the alleged recantation. The professor also provided inconsistent explanations about whether the missing recording included the alleged recantation or whether, instead, the woman made the key admission before he began recording the interview.

“I’m not surprised, but my heart is broken,” Thelma Wright Edwards, Till’s cousin, said in response to the case being closed, ABC News reports. 

“I pinned diapers on Emmett. I lived with him, he was like a brother to me,” she added. “I have no hate in my heart, but I had hoped we could get an apology. But that didn’t happen, nothing was settled. The case is closed, and we have to go on from here.”

“Pain is somewhat numbed, but it never really goes away,” Parker told “ABC News Live” Tuesday.

Bryant is said to be “glad” the investigation is finally over.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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