By Rich Shapiro,
New York Daily News, January 28, 2017 —
The white woman at the center of the Emmett Till case has admitted she lied in the case that led to the murder decades ago of the 14-year-old black boy, according to a new book.
“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Carolyn Bryant Donham is quoted as saying in “The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy Tyson.
Till was kidnapped, beaten, shot and tossed into the muddy Tallahatchie River in August 1955, four days after he allegedly whistled at Bryant, the then-wife of a white Mississippi shopkeeper.
The woman’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Miliam, were charged with murdering Till, whose mutilated body was found in the river.
Till’s mother insisted on holding an open-casket funeral. Images of the teen’s disfigured face rocketed across the country, sparking the Civil Rights movement.
At trial, Carolyn Bryant delivered the most explosive testimony, claiming Till had grabbed and threatened her inside her husband’s store. She said Till used an “unprintable” word as he told her he had been intimate “with white women before.”
“I was just scared to death,” the woman added on the stand in testimony that was never heard by the jury because the judge decided it wasn’t relevant to the murder.
Despite mountains of evidence, Roy Bryant and Miliam were acquitted by an all-white jury.
The acquital made the front page of the Daily News on Sept. 24, 1955. Two acquitted for Emmett Till kidnaping and murder in 1955
Carolyn Bryant went into hiding in the years after the trial. She divorced, and twice remarried, all the while never giving an interview.
That changed in 2007 when she agreed to speak with Tyson. The then-72-year-old Carolyn Bryant Donham admitted she had fabricated her trial testimony about Till making verbal and physical advances toward her.
“That part’s not true,” she says in Tyson’s book, according to Vanity Fair.
Donham added that she couldn’t remember the rest of what happened in the country store the night Till came in.
But she did say she “felt tender sorrow” for Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who died in 2003.
Till’s murder investigation was reopened the next year. But a grand jury declined to indict Donham, whose voice was overheard by some witnesses at the scene of the abduction.
Now 82, Donham’s whereabouts are reportedly unknown.