US authorities reopen notorious civil rights murder

WASHINGTON: The US Justice Department has reopened its investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, an African-American teenager whose brutal slaying galvanized the civil rights movement.

Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago, was abducted and murdered in August 1955 while visiting relatives in the southern state of Mississippi.

His mutilated body was found three days later in a local river.

Till's mother famously insisted that her son's remains be displayed in an open casket to show to the world what had been done to her boy.

Till was murdered several days after a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, alleged that he had grabbed her in a store and made sexual remarks.

Two white Mississippi men, Roy Bryant, Carolyn Bryant's husband, and J. W. Milam, his half-brother, were arrested for Till's murder but acquitted by a jury.

The pair later admitted in a magazine interview that they had killed the boy.

Bryant died in 1994 and Milam died in 1981.

In a report quietly submitted to Congress in March, the Justice Department said that it had reopened the Till case "based upon the discovery of new information."

The Justice Department did not specify the nature of the new information in the case, which was closed in 2007.

"Because the matter is ongoing, the Department can provide no further information about the current investigation," it said.

Carolyn Bryant, now known as Carolyn Donham, confessed in a book published last year, "The Blood of Emmett Till" by Timothy B. Tyson, that she had lied about the incident in the store.

In the book she is quoted as saying "Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him."

Donham is still alive and living in North Carolina.

The Justice Department decision to reopen the Till case was revealed in an annual report to Congress about unsolved racially motivated murders during the civil rights era. — AFP