Justice Department closes Emmett Till murder probe without indictments

  • Written by Axios
  • Published in Politics
Internet Party

The family of Emmett Till announced Monday that the Department of Justice has formally closed its second investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Why it matters: The DOJ reopened the probe in 2018 after the white woman at the center of the case reportedly recanted her allegation that Till, a Black 14-year-old, sexually harassed her prior to his murder.

  • His killing in part galvanized the civil rights movement, and highlighted injustices surrounding written and unwritten codes for Black people in the Jim Crow-era South.

Catch up quick: Till crossed paths with Carolyn Bryant Donham, who was then 20, in Mississippi at the grocery store she ran with her husband.

  • Donham testified that Till grabbed and propositioned her that day, while witness accounts said he whistled at her. Within days, Donham's husband and brother-in-law abducted and lynched Till after brutally mutilating his body.
  • An all-white jury cleared the two white men in 1955, though they admitted to killing Till in an interview a year later.
  • The DOJ launched its initial investigation in 2004 but concluded in 2007 that no one could be prosecuted based on existing evidence and the statute of limitations.
  • According to historian Timothy Tyson's 2017 book, Donham told him that trial testimony was false when they spoke in 2008.
  • After facing calls to re-open the case, federal investigators turned to Donham again, but she denied recanting her testimony.

Driving the news: The DOJ closed the probe after finding that her alleged recantation was not recorded or documented. Her family has denied that she walked back her accusation, per ABC...

Read more from our friends at Axios