More than 60 years after black teenager Emmett Till was beaten to death by a group of white men in Mississippi, members of Till's family have called for a new investigation into the horrific crime.
The news came after reports that Carolyn Bryant—the woman toward whom Till had allegedly made made verbal and physical advances, leading to his lynching—had lied about the extent of the 14-year-old's actions. Till's cousins Wheeler Parker and Deborah Watts have now requested that law enforcement reopen a probe into Till's death.
Parker was on hand in 1955 when Till, visiting family in Mississippi from Chicago, allegedly made a pass at Bryant. Till was then abducted from his great-uncle's home, and his body found shot and bludgeoned to death in the Tallahatchie River several days later. Bryant's husband, Roy Bryant, and her brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, were arrested and charged with Till's murder. At trial, her testimony that the teen had grabbed and threatened her was seen as crucial in convincing the all-white jury to acquit both men. Later, Roy Bryant and Milam openly bragged about the killing in a notorious magazine interview.
Till's death, his alleged murderer's acquittal, and his mother Mamie's decision to hold an open-casket funeral and allow the world an unfiltered glimpse at what had happened to her son, were instrumental in helping launch what would become the Civil Rights Movement.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Parker admitted that his cousin "did whistle, for sure." However, according to a new book by author Timothy Tyson, Bryant lied during the murder trial about Till's having grabbed her and told her something "unprintable" in regards to what he'd allegedly done "with white women before."
"That part’s not true," Bryant, now in her 80s, allegedly told Tyson.
Given Bryant's recent revelation, both Parker and Watts are asking for authorities to re-open the investigation into Till's death.
"We know that she has admitted that she lied, and we know that is part of the reason Emmett is no longer with us," Watts told the AP "If there is any chance to reopen the case, I hope they will take this opportunity to do it now."
"I don't know what else they could investigate," Parker told the news agency. "(But) if they could bring more truth, I'd say investigate."
In a statement to the AP, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood declined to comment on the possibility of a reopened investigation, but said he "will do all the law allows to make sure justice is done."