Emmett Till's family seeks arrest after discovery of unserved warrant

Emmett Till's gravestone.
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Last week, investigators looking for evidence tied to the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till discovered in a Mississippi courthouse basement an unserved warrant for the woman who accused Till of grabbing and propositioning her.

After the woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, made the accusation, Till was abducted from a family member's home in Leflore County and lynched. Donham's husband at the time, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam were later acquitted of Till's murder; they both eventually admitted to the killing during a magazine interview. Witnesses said Till whistled at Donham, which was "an act that flew in the face of Mississippi's racist social codes of the era," The Associated Press writes.

Till's cousin, Deborah Watts, and her daughter, Teri Watts, were among the members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation searching for evidence at the Mississippi courthouse. Teri Watts told AP on Wednesday that law enforcement officials need to serve the warrant and charge Donham, adding, "This is what the state of Mississippi needs to go ahead."

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The warrant was reported to the public in 1955, AP says, but the Leflore County sheriff at the time said he didn't want to "bother" Donham because she was the mother of two small children. Bonham is now in her 80s, and her most recent address was in North Carolina. Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks told AP he hadn't heard about the warrant until now, and "will see if I can get a copy of the warrant and get with the DA and get their opinion on it."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.