Emmett Till’s whistleblower denies in his memoirs that he wants the teen to be killed


Durham, NC (AP) —A white woman accusing a black teenager Emmett Till The improper progress he made before being lynched in Mississippi in 1955 states that she did not want to identify or kill him as a murderer.

In an unpublished memoir obtained by AP News, Carolyn Bryant Donam sees what happens when 14-year-old Till, who lives in Chicago and visits a relative in Mississippi, is kidnapped, killed and thrown. He says he didn’t know. river. Donam, now 87, was 21 at the time. Her then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother JW Miram were acquitted of murder, but later confessed in a magazine interview.

The content of the 99-page manuscript entitled “I have more than a wolf-whistling” was first reported by the Mississippi Investigative Journalism Center. Historian and writer Timothy Tyson of Durham said she got a copy from Donam when she interviewed her in 2008, and she provided a copy to AP on Thursday.

Tyson said he had kept the manuscript in an archive at the University of North Carolina and agreed not to publish it for decades, but said he submitted it to the FBI during an investigation conducted by authorities last year.He said he decided to publish it now as follows Recent findings of arrest warrants About the kidnapping charges that were issued for Donam in 1955 but never helped.

“The potential of the investigation was more important than the archiving contract, but they are important,” Tyson said. “But this is probably the last chance of prosecution in this case.”

Deborah Watts, Till’s cousin, who heads the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said the memoirs are new evidence that Donam was involved in the case and are of particular importance when combined with arrest warrants.

“I really believe these developments cannot be ignored by Mississippi authorities,” she said.

In his memoirs, Donam says he tried to help Till after being found by her husband and brother-in-law and brought to her at midnight for identification.

“I didn’t want to harm Emmet and I didn’t know what was planned for him, so I couldn’t stop the harm from coming to him,” Donam said in her in-law. Say in a manuscript edited by my daughter. He told Roy, “He’s not that person.” It’s not him. She claims in her manuscript that Till, who was struck by a gun at midnight and dragged out of her family’s home, aloud to reveal her identity.

Donham added that she “always felt like a victim like Emmet” and “changed her life and paid sincerely” for what happened to him.

“I always pray that God will bless Emmet’s family. I’m really sorry that his family suffered,” she said at the end of the manuscript signed “Carolin.” However, it shows that it was written by her daughter-in-law, Masha Bryant.

This memoir is noteworthy because it is not only the most extensive account of the sensational episodes that Donam has ever recorded, but also contains contradictions that question her truthfulness over the years. Said Dale Kiringer, a retired FBI agent who investigated the case further, more than 15 years ago.

For example, Donam claims in his memoirs that he screamed for help after confronting Till at a family grocery store in Money, Mississippi, but no one reported hearing her scream. Said Kiringer. Also, Donam has never mentioned that she and Roy Bryant had discussed the kidnapping. In the manuscript, she says they did.

“It looks ridiculous,” Kiringer said.

The Justice Department has completed the latest investigation into this case. December Mississippi authorities have not shown plans to pursue kidnapping warrants or other accusations against Donam. However, the Tills are urging authorities to take action.

Filmmaker Keith Boshan, who created the documentary prior to the Justice Ministry’s investigation involving Kiringer and ended without prosecution in 2007, said in his memoirs that the documentary was “kidnapping and murdering Emmet Louis Till.” Shows that she is responsible and not responsible for her. ” Her actions are wrong for all of us. “

“Our battle continues until justice is finally offered,” Beauchamp said.

Earlier this month, Boshan, along with two of Till’s relatives, found an arrest warrant bearing Donam’s name in the basement of the Mississippi Courthouse.

Historian Tyson, who provided AP with a manuscript of about 35,000 words, spurred the government’s latest investigation into the killings by publishing a book in 2017. He has made sexual progress. But in her memoirs, she claims that Till did those things. In a recent investigation, Donam told the FBI that she had never resigned, according to the Justice Ministry.

Tyson said Donam’s remarks in his memoirs need to be captured as “a properly sized shovel full of salt.”

“At 2:00 am in the Mississippi Delta in 1955, two large white men with guns came and dragged him out of the house of his aunt and granduncle. It was believed that he had identified himself for a minute. No, “Tyson said. ..

Neither Donham nor her relatives have responded to messages or calls from APs seeking comments. It is unknown where Donam currently lives or if she has a lawyer. Her last known address was Raleigh, NC.


This story was edited to clarify that Tyson provided the FBI with a copy of the manuscript for a survey that ended last year, not 2007.


Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama. He is a member of the AP racial and ethnic team.