Carolyn Bryant Donham: Emmett Till's accuser seen for the FIRST TIME in 20 years at Kentucky home

Carolyn Bryant Donham evaded the public eye for years, confined inside the home she shares with her son, Thomas Bryant, 71


                            Carolyn Bryant Donham: Emmett Till's accuser seen for the FIRST TIME in 20 years at Kentucky home
Carolyn Bryant Donham (R) accused Emmett Till (L) of whistling at her in a store in 1955, after which he was lynched (Bettmann Archive via Getty Images and 60 Minutes/CBS News)
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Emmett Till's accuser Carolyn Bryant Donham has been spotted for the first time in 20 years. Donham evaded public eye for years, staying inside the four walls of the home she shares with her son, Thomas Bryant, 71, and her pet Shih Tzu. Donham's stooped and the weak figure was caught on camera recently, after years of successfully escaping being pictured. 

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The Daily Mail shared exclusive pictures of Donham, who reportedly lives in a small apartment community in Kentucky. Now 88, she is battling cancer, is legally blind, and is receiving end-of-life hospice care in the shared apartment. The exact location of her house has not been shared by the publication. Tubes delivering oxygen could be seen over her ears and some were looped into her nose. 

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Donham was seen wearing a blue top and khaki slacks, waiting for a visit from her hospice nurse. She was later seen greeting her, and waving her off with the promise to see her "next week". When approached by the Daily Mail, both she and her son refused to talk about Till's case. She was last seen in 2004 when she was said to be living in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Earlier in July, Till protesters combed senior living facilities, looking for Donham. Till's case came to the headlines after an undelivered arrest warrant was recently unearthed in a Mississippi courthouse. North Carolina's Donham had reportedly accused Till of whistling at her in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi, in 1955. 

A woman holds a sign in honor of Emmett Till during a protest on June 13, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Protests erupted across the nation after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th.
A woman holds a sign in honor of Emmett Till during a protest on June 13, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Protests erupted across the nation after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th (Photo by Natasha Moustache/Getty Images)

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Fourteen-year-old Till was abducted, tortured, and gunned down a week later, and dumped into the Tallahatchie River. His swollen and mutilated body was found three days later. Donham's husband, Roy Bryant, and half-brother, JW Milam, were arrested for his lynching. However, they were later acquitted. Although the two of them later admitted guilt, they could not be prosecuted due to double-jeopardy laws. 

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The unserved arrest warrant for Donham was found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse in June this year. This prompted Till's family and activists to renew their protests and seek justice once again. "You cannot ignore this," said Priscilla Sterling, Till's cousin, according to WRAL. "If this is what’s needed to do for us to change our mindset, our behaviors, and attitudes in the society, then this will do it. This will do it. Execute the warrant." One of the protesters said, according to the Daily Mail, "I do understand that Ms. Bryant is in her mid-to-late-80s, but understandably, this is a crime she committed when she was 22. Sixty years later, it’s time for her to be held accountable."

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Marsha Bryant, Donham's daughter-in-law, said that the elderly woman "had nothing to do with it", and that Till's murder "appalled" her. "They think she should die or go to jail forever. They think what happened to Emmett Till should happen to her," Marsha told the Clarion Ledger. Police and activists are still searching for Donham. Till's case was closed by the Department of Justice, which stated that no further prosecution could take place because back in 1955, federal hate crimes did not exist. It also claimed that the "statute of limitations" for a civil rights case has already expired.  

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