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.