Where is Carolyn Bryant Donham now? Emmett Till's family seeks 80-yr-old's arrest after warrant found

'Serve it and charge her', says one of the relatives of Emmett Till after the discovery of unserved warrant


                            Where is Carolyn Bryant Donham now? Emmett Till's family seeks 80-yr-old's arrest after warrant found
An unserved warrant was found against Carolyn Bryant Donham (R) for the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till (L) in 1955 (Bettmann Archive via Getty Images and 60 Minutes/CBS News)
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An arrest warrant, charging Carolyn Bryant Donham for the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, was discovered last week that seeks evidence to arrest and prosecute Donham. And now, Till's family, who initiated the search, want authorities to take immediate action to arrest Donham, 67 years after committing the crime.

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The discovery, reported by historical Black newspaper The New York Amsterdam News and the Associated Press, shows an unserved warrant, dated August 29, 1955, for the arrest of Donham — identified as ‘Mrs Roy Bryant on the document. Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill informed The Associated Press on Wednesday, June 29, that it was found inside a file folder that had been placed in a box. He explained that the documents are kept inside boxes for decades and there was nothing else to indicate where the warrant might have been. However, the team searching a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence got lucky. “They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s,” said the clerk, who certified the warrant as genuine.

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As per AP, the search was started by the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, including two members of Till's family, Cousin Deborah Watts, head of the Foundation, and her daughter Teri Watts, who said, "Serve it and charge her," after the discovery of the unserved warrant.

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On the other hand, Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks told AP, “This is the first time I’ve known about a warrant. I will see if I can get a copy of the warrant and get with the DA and get their opinion on it.” He further added that if the warrant can still be served, he would have to talk to law enforcement officers in the state where Donham resides.

Where is Carolyn Bryant Donham now?

Donham, who is around 88 now, is living in North Carolina. She has not come in public to deny the allegations and has not commented on calls for her prosecution. However, Teri said the family believes the warrant accusing Donham of kidnapping amounts to new evidence. “This is what the state of Mississippi needs to go ahead,” she said.

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The killing of Emmett Till

The murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 brought nationwide attention to the racial violence and injustice prevalent in Mississippi. As per NBC, the murder took place after Till went to the Bryant store with his cousins, and whistled at Donham, while visiting his relatives in Mississippi. Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant, and brother-in-law, J W Milam, kidnapped and brutally murdered Till on August 28, 1955, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River. Evidence indicated a woman, Donham, who identified the young boy to the men who later killed him. During that time, the arrest warrant against Donham was publicized. However, the Leflore County sheriff told reporters that they did not want to “bother” the woman since she had two children.

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Bryant and Milam were tried on murder charges about a month after the teenager was killed, but an all-white Mississippi jury acquitted them. On January 24, 1956, they confessed their crime in a paid interview with Look magazine. Bryant died in 1994, while Milam died in 1981.

In 2004, the Justice Department reopened an investigation to identify whether others were involved in the murder. As federal civil rights crimes related to the incident had passed the statute of limitations, the FBI worked with state authorities to determine if state charges could be brought. Later, in February 2007, a Mississippi grand jury declined to indict anyone, and the Justice Department announced that the case will be closed.

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As per sources, author Timothy Tyson, who wrote the 2017 book titled ‘The Blood of Emmett Till’, said that he provided details of his interviews with Donham to federal investigators. However, the FBI said the author did not have recordings or transcripts of the interview to prove Donham was lying to the federal investigators.

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