1955 Arrest Warrant For Woman Who Accused Emmett Till Find in Court Basement


A Mississippi court basement found an unsold warrant for Emmett Till’s arrest. This was nearly 70 years after the kidnapping and lynching of the Black boy.

The warrant that charged Carolyn Bryant Donham, a teenager who was killed in Till’s 1955 murder, was discovered by searchers searching for evidence. Her relatives also want her to be arrested. The Associated Press reported.  

Donham was identified “Mrs. Roy Bryant”Elmus Stockstill, Leflore County Circuit Clerk, said that the document was found in a folder within a box. The warrant, dated Aug. 29, 1955, is genuine, Stockstill said.

The searchers included members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and two Till relatives: cousin Deborah Watts, head of the foundation; and her daughter, Teri Watts. 

“Serve it and charge her,”Teri Watts spoke to the wire service in an interview.

Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant, was acquitted with his half-brother, J.W. Milam was convicted of the murder of Till by an all-white jury from rural Mississippi. The trial was covered extensively by the media in the racist south. Additionally, details about Till’s violent kidnappings and murders helped to galvanize Civil Rights.

Donham sparked the case by accusing Till indecent advances at her family store, Money, Mississippi. Till’s cousin, who was present at the scene, said that Till whistled at Till, a 21-year-old woman of color.

Till, who grew up in Chicago, had just arrived to the Deep South to see his family. After Donham’s accusation, Till, who was from Chicago, was brutally beat and dragged to his great-uncles’ home on Aug. 28. He was then tied with barbed wire to an oversized metal fan and dumped into the Tallahatchie River.

Three days later, his bloated and fractured body was discovered.

Bryant and Milam were not convicted of murder but later confessed to the crime in an interview with a magazine. Although both men were listed in the warrant accusing Donham, authorities didn’t pursue any case against them.

Donham, who is now 88 years old and was last seen in North Carolina, remains the sole living witness to the events. Calls for her prosecution have not been publicly discussed by Donham.

Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks was contacted by The AP Wednesday. “This is the first time I’ve known about a warrant.”

Banks, 7 years old, was present when Till was murdered. “nothing was said about a warrant”A former district attorney looked into the case about five or six years back.

“I will see if I can get a copy of the warrant and get with the DA and get their opinion on it,” Banks said. Banks stated that if the warrant cannot be served, he would need to speak to the law enforcement officers in Donham’s state.

Dewayne Richardson District Attorney, whose office would pursue a case, declined to comment but cited a December report about the Till case from the Justice Department, which said no prosecution was possible.