If Deborah Watts and family, Jaribu Hill, and Keith Beauchamp have their way and say, the case of the brutal lynching of Emmett Till will never be closed until justice is done. Last year, for the second time, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it was closing the case on one of the most horrific acts of racial violence in American history. But Watts, Till’s cousin and a co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation; Hill, counsel to the family, and Beauchamp, a filmmaker and documentarian, have kept a foot in the door, and they refuse to accept the DOJ’s decision to close the case.

During a phone call and subsequent email, Watts explained that the search for the warrant was conducted by a devoted team, including her daughter, Teri, Khali Rasheed, Melissa Earnest, and Mr. Beauchamp. “This effort began with Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, and we intensified our families efforts after the DOJ reopened the investigation in 2017,” she said. “After receiving no updates, we launched the Justice for Emmett Till campaign in 2020 to request charges be brought against the only known living accomplice, Carolyn Bryant-Donham.”

Their resolve and diligence was recently rewarded when they were able to find a warrant issued 67 years ago for the arrest of Roy Bryant, J.W. Milam, Bryant’s half-brother, and Carolyn Bryant in the kidnapping of Till, who was a 14-year-old from Chicago visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi. “A warrant never expires,” said attorney Hill, in a telephone interview Monday afternoon, “and they never arrested her because they said she was a young woman with children.”

The two men cited on the warrant are dead, but the woman, now Carolyn Bryant-Donham, is still alive, in her 80s, and rumored to be living somewhere in North Carolina. Both Bryant and Milam were acquitted by an all-white male jury and later confessed they murdered Till to author William Bradford Huie for a payment of $4,000. The story was published in Look magazine in January 1956.

“That lay people were able to find the warrant in the archives of the Leflore County Courthouse is a testament of their determination to keep this case alive,” said Hill, who at the request of Beauchamp was retained by the late Simeon Wright to represent the family. Wright was sleeping in the bed with Till when he was abducted. “It also underscores the failure of the law enforcement agencies to do what they should have been doing.” She was perturbed that even after the family presented a copy of the warrant and a letter to District Attorney DeWayne Richardson and the Department of Justice, “They have not given us the courtesy of a response. But that’s no surprise.”

If a determined team of citizens and relatives of Till can do a deep dive and find incriminating evidence, Watts said: “What other kind of evidence might be buried in LeFlore County where no one had searched before?” The AmNews’ calls to the DA and the DOJ were not answered.

District Attorney Richardson, according to Beauchamp whose documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” (2005)intensifiedinterest in the case that was renewed in 2004 “just passed the information on to the DOJ. He continues to pass the buck to the Feds and not do the job he needs to be doing. All we are asking the DA to do is…to convene a new grand jury to hear the case.”

Dale Killinger, a retired former FBI agent who has worked on the case for years, said he concurs with the family, Beauchamp and attorney Hill, “That any and all new evidence should be afforded the routine process of being presented to a Grand Jury. The fact that law enforcement had probable cause in 1955 to believe that Carolyn Bryant was involved in Till’s kidnapping, a kidnapping which led to his murder, is new information.” 

Moreover, Killinger added in an email, “This is not the only new information which has surfaced since I presented the results of the FBI’s 2004-2006 investigation to a Mississippi Grand Jury in 2007, and they returned a No Bill. We also now know that Carolyn Bryant admitted to her attorneys in 1955 that Emmett Till was brought to her in the night—which corroborates information presented to the Grand Jury in 2007. 

“The kidnapping occurred,” he continued, “and Donham was likely with the kidnappers or assisted the kidnappers, as the newly discovered warrant indicates there was probable cause to believe so. She admitted to her attorneys that Till was brought to the store, she admitted to the FBI that Roy Bryant, J.W. Milam and Elmer Kimbell brought him to the store. The only purpose for bringing Emmett Till to the store, or for her being with the kidnappers, would have been for her to identify him. He was subsequently murdered.”

But the discovery of new information, as in the past, is no guarantee that the Till case will be put on the docket. Even after Bryant allegedly confessed to Timothy Tyson, the author of “The Blood of Emmett Till,” that Till had not assaulted her and what she said during the trial was not the truth and then later told the FBI she never recanted her testimony, the case was never reopened. “She was lying then and probably lying now,” Hill said. “You have a woman sleeping with a man who was a racist, and it’s hard to believe that she wasn’t just as racist as he was.” No evidence was ever revealed about Bryant-Donham’s recantation.

Keith Beauchamp, who has expended many years researching the Till murder case, elaborated on it, noting that the FBI had done a thorough investigation, “but they were always fighting over jurisdiction [which may be a dual one since the Feds are involved]…and we were so focused on the murder that we didn’t spend a lot of time looking closer into the kidnapping.” Even so, he added, “It’s going to be interesting to see how he [the DA] wiggles his way out of executing a warrant which is still active. They’re going to come up with everything and the kitchen sink, not to serve it.”

Since the kidnapping that is at the core of a warrant that never expires a number of legal options are still on the table, most importantly the arrest of Mrs. Bryant-Donham who remains a fugitive from justice.

“Our family, without malice, hate or vengeance, remains focused and hopeful that at the very least this physical warrant is considered as evidence, is executed legally and finally served in 2022. Carolyn Bryant-Donham or the former Mrs. Roy Bryant is alive and well. We have done our job as a family including justice advocates and ambassadors, now we expect the State of Mississippi, with the help of the DOJ to do theirs…no excuses,” Watts concluded. 

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52 Comments

      1. SHE SERVED THE 1ST DEADLY DOSE OF POISON AND AN INJUSTICE TOWARDS HUMAN EQUALITY DERIVED FROM IGNORANCE AND HATRED KILLED HIM.
        “THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITTNESS AGAINTST THY NEIGHBOUR” KJV
        SPEAKING FALSELY IN ANY MATTER, LYING, EQUIVOCATING, AND ANY WAY DEVISING AND DESIGNING TO DECEIVE OUR NEIGHBOUR. SPEAKING UNJUSTLY AGAINST OUR NEIGHBOR TO THE PREJUDICE OF HIS REPUTATION; AND (WHICH INVOLVES THE GUILTY OF BOTH)
        DO YOU REMEMBER THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

      2. She indirectly did kill him. Of she’d not been so terrified of her ex-husband’s repeated cheating around on her + domestic violence towards her, she would have had no reason at all to toss the name of a young boy–totally unfamiliar w/Jim Crow’s Southern “laws”–on his 1st trip to MS to visit same-aged cousins & Uncles etc. She gaslit her then husband to distract him from her own running around behind his back & her actions set up the kidnapping, torture & brutal death of a 7th grader.

  1. Justice need to be served. A lie is a lie and it caused someone/ a child to have his life ended. She needs to be held accountable for everyone’s actions including her late husband and the brother in-law and who ever else that was involved. Carolyn needs to spend the rest of her natural life behind bars.

    1. Everybody around those parts of MS knew what she was doing – and yes she’s 💯 guilty for it

  2. I am curious to know exactly why this warrant was never served. It is sad to know that at the age of 80, Carolyn Bryant Donham would have to face what lies ahead for her now that this warrant has been revealed. How could a person with a heart live this long with such a dark cloud knowing that her accusations were false? Innocent until proven guilty of course!

    1. It wasn’t served because they found the body. And she had nothing to do with it according to every documentary on the case.

      The woman is close to 90 years old. Back off.

      1. So? The Original Night Stalker was 73 (but looks like he’s 83) when he FINALLY was arrested for 13 murders, 50 brutal rapes & 120 B&E’s. He could die tomorrow, but at least he had to pay for his horrific crimes for 3-4yrs prior to him dying (not dead, just a scenario used to reference a point)

    2. Good morning S. Allen. Why was the arrest warrant never served?

      ~The arrest warrant (order), dated Monday August 29, 1955, was TO Leflore County Sheriff’s Deputies (Only). After Roy was locked up on Sunday Aug 28, Caroline went to her parent’s house in Ruleville, in Sunflower County. Leflore Co. deputies could not server a warrant out of the count.

      ~On Aug 31, they found the body in Tallahatchie County. A Tallahatchie Grand Jury indicted Roy Bryant and JW Milam (not Carolyn) on murder AND kidnapping. Basically taking the case out of the hands of Leflore County.

    3. Because both she & her exhusband were cheating around the other’s back+she was at times a victim to his domestic abuse. She gaslit him over a yankee born & raised 7th grader unfamiliar with Jim Crow Southern “Ways” & how they were carried out. She knew all of this already bc those kids hung out at the store every afternoon. She threw his name out to her exhusband (now) in order to send him on a different trail, rather than her own personal one, so as to protect her lover at the time. And the gaslighting worked out perfectly for her that week.

      Fact that an 70 years-old warrant for her arrest was only recently discovered to have even existed is not shocking one bit, when you’re born & raised around the Delta areas of MS.

      Fact that the warrant never expires, yet the DOJ nor the MS AG are going to swoop in to finally, rightfully arrest her — noe that, indeed, is all too shocking!

  3. It doesn’t say anything about your age when you do a crime you do the time. There’s no statue of limitations. There’s new evidence. Lock her up!!

      1. There is no statute of limitations applicable to one being arrested on a warrant (in Mississippi).
        In other words, BENCH WARRANTS DO NOT EXPIRE.

        1. Good afternoon Byhalia Justice Seeker. You are correct that an arrest warrant does not expire.

          Just a point of legal terminology. It was an arrest warrant.

          A “Bench” warrant is an order from the judge to have someone sit his ass down on a “bench” in front of a judge. Usually because the defendant has not shown up for a court appearance. Another example is a contempt of court.

          And arrest warrant is normally initiated by a police officer who has discovered a crime. In this case, Leflore County Sheriff George Smith.

  4. Horrible. And she was never served “because she has young children”?! What about the young child who died? He deserved protection, but never got it. I just can’t imagine. My heart goes out to his family. Shame on that woman. Arrest her and let her die in jail. I am a white woman, not that it matters, but more importantly, I’m a mother of 3 boys. That poor boy was terrified, I’m sure. Lock her up!!!

  5. The warrant for Al Sharpton and Tawana Brawley is still outstanding, and we KNOW they are guilty.

    This woman didn’t kill Emmet Till. The charge in the warrant is for kidnapping.

    After 67 years, it’s going nowhere.

    1. If there is an outstanding warrant (as you allege) for anyone, it should be served. Contact that DA.

    2. It’s a shame that a heart filled with hate exist. The family of Emmett Till are still suffering due to this heinous crime. Emmett was 14 years old murdered by racist hateful men because of a lie. Emmett was 14 years of age taken away from life selfishly because of the color of his skin. The warrant is one thing and love is another. This family loved Emmett and Emmett’s mother needs to be able to rest in peace knowing that her sons’ death has been rectified! Calling out others to fulfill your personal agenda has nothing to do with this, it hurt the entire African American community when this happen. Hatred is a diease, that divides all of Gods children and the fact that warrant was found, is a indication that justice still needs to be served. I know if one of your children was lynched you wouldn’t rest until justice was served.

      God bless🙏🙏🙏

      1. And HOW many opportunities must PRESENT themselves to ARREST her before she really does kick the bucket?? It’s like each time an administration of true Justice in Emmett’s case arises making ALL the conditions perfect, between the DOJ/FBI & the MS LEO communities, NEITHER ever get their rearends in gear and actually DO anything to seek long, long, long ago JUSTICE for the Till family!

    3. Who in the he’ll u know will smear feces on themselves and have racist comments on their body wake up justice needs to be served to these people you may be not guilty in the eyes of people but what about in God’s eyes

  6. THERE’S BLOOD ON HER HANDS THAT I’M SURE SHES BEEN TRYING 2 WASH OFF 4 OVER 60 YRS .
    NOW ITS UR CHANCE 2 COME CLEAN!
    ( IT’S BEEN *JUST US * 4 DECADES )
    JUSTICE 4 EMMIT TILL !!!!!
    SERVE HER THE WARRANT & LOCK HER ASS UP!!!!

  7. Serve the warrant. It’s how the law must work…then a trial. She isn’t above the law.

  8. She was born in 1934. She should at least be contacted to allow her to clear her conscience. An 88 year old woman sees things in a very different way than a 21 year old.

  9. My previous comment sounds like I am giving her a pass — not at all. What she did caused Emmitt Till’s kidnapping, torture, and murder. Keep in mind that she was married to a Klansman. Those dogs never needed an excuse to denigrate innocent people.

  10. Serve the warrant! Even if she doesn’t get any time. She should be made to answer for her part in Emmitt Till’s murder.

  11. Carolyn Bryant-Donham or the former Mrs. Roy Bryant is alive and well and should be brought to justice. Thanks for your efforts to reopen the case.

  12. She should have to answer for her part too.one way or the other judgement day coming we all have to give an account for our actions and for whatever we have done on this earth so she may as well say she sorry and come clean.This world needs love and unity . We all bleed the same and to God there’s no respect of persons.Apologies and Forgivenesses goes along way.

  13. That was a child who couldn’t defend himself.put yourself or your kid in that child’s shoes.

  14. Disgusting, lying witch! Do your time. You lied and caused the cruel, torture and death of a child. No mercy for you. I don’t care what your old wrinkled up age is at all. I pray God allows you to burn in hell for what you did.

  15. If someone lied on you would you want Justice if you where facing life or the death penalty and they didn’t show no remorse for what they did!!!!!!

  16. My.heart .cries.for this boy and his family and it.dont matter.how many yrs go by. Guilty is guilty.a lie is a lie. And age is just a number. If men no.matter the age can go to jail.for their crimes woman should to. She need.to be held accountable..if we don’t hold her accountable tho..GOD will!

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