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Arrest Warrant for Woman Who Accused Emmett Till Found in Courthouse Basement

By Mina Corpuz

Mississippi Today

An unserved arrest warrant in the lynching case of Black teenager Emmett Till nearly 70 years ago has been found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse. 

The original warrant is for Carolyn Bryant Donham and is dated Aug. 29, 1955. It was found last week by a search group in a file folder in a box in the Leflore County courthouse, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. 

The group that found the warrant included members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and two of Till’s relatives: Deborah Watts, Till’s cousin, co-founder and leader of the foundation, and her daughter, Teri Watts. 

In March, Watts, other family members and supporters visited the Mississippi State Capitol to deliver a petition to state officials and call for Donham to be charged for Till’s lynching. 

“We made a promise to Mamie (Till) that we would persist, and that’s why we’re here today,” Deborah Watts said in March.  

Donham is now in her 80s and most recently lived in North Carolina. 

She is the former wife of Roy Bryant, one of the men who kidnapped and killed Till in the Mississippi Delta in 1955. Till was 14 years old and was visiting family from Chicago when he whistled at Donham inside the store where she was working.  

Donham testified in court Till grabbed her and made unwanted advances toward her. In a 2017 book by Timothy Tyson, Donham said the allegations were false. She later disputed the claim and recanted her story, according to the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.  

The U.S. Department of Justice has investigated Till’s case multiple times but did not file additional charges

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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