FBI speaks to author of book about 1955 slaying of teenager Emmett Till
THE author of a book about the 1955 murder of black teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi has been contacted by FBI agents asking about his interview with a witness who acknowledged lying about her interactions with the boy, it has emerged.
North Carolina author Timothy Tyson said he turned over interview recordings and other research materials for his 2017 book on the case that shocked the nation and helped build momentum for the civil rights movement in America.
Hours after news broke about a renewed investigation prompted by the book, The Blood Of Emmett Till, Mr Tyson told reporters he supports a fresh look at “one of the most notorious racial incidents of racial violence in the history of the world” – but does not think his research alone will provide enough evidence for new charges.
He said: “It’s possible the investigation will turn up something. But there’s nothing I know of, and nothing in my research, that is actionable, I don’t think.”
However, he said investigators may be able to link it to other material in their possession.
The book quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, formerly Bryant, as saying during a 2008 interview she was not truthful when she testified the black 14-year-old had grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a Mississippi store six decades ago.
A federal official said information in the 2017 book was what led federal investigators to re-examine the case.
The reopening of the Till case was not widely known until Thursday.
The case was closed in 2007, with authorities saying the suspects were dead.
Two white men
– Ms Donham’s thenhusband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother, JW Milam – were charged with the boy’s murder but acquitted.
Ms Donham, then 21 and known as Carolyn Bryant, testified in 1955 as a prospective defence witness in the trial of Bryant and Milam.
The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but were not retried. Both are now dead.
Ms Donham, 83, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. A man who came to the door at her residence would not comment on the investigation.
JW Milam and his wife, on left, with Roy Bryant and wife Carolyn in the courtroom during the trial.