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Justice Department Ends Emmett Till Murder Probe Without Filing Charges

HeadlineDec 07, 2021

The Department of Justice has ended its latest investigation into the murder of Emmett Till without filing any charges. Till was the 14-year-old Black teenager who was brutally abducted, tortured and killed in Mississippi in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant Donham, a white woman and store clerk. Federal prosecutors opened their latest probe after a 2017 book quoted Donham as saying she lied when she said Till made sexual advances toward her. But the Justice Department said Monday it had “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that Donham lied to the FBI. Till’s family said they were deeply disappointed by the decision to drop the case.

Donham’s husband and his half-brother were tried for Till’s murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. The two later confessed to beating and shooting Till in a magazine article. Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, described her decision to have an open casket and show her son’s mutilated body at his funeral. This is a clip from the 2005 film, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.” 

Mamie Till Mobley: “Well, I looked at Mr. Rayner, and Mr. Rayner wanted to know: Was I going to have the casket opened? I said, 'Oh, yes, we're going to open the casket.’ He said, 'Well, Ms. Bradley, do you want me to do something for the face? Want me to try to fix it up?' I said, 'No. Let the people see what I've seen.’”

If he had lived, Emmett Till would have celebrated his 80th birthday in July.

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