“I cried. We cried. We hugged,” Emmett’s cousin Deborah Watts told CNN of the moment she said members of the Emmett Till Heritage Foundation found the warrant in a box. dusty and damp at a district courthouse in Greenwood, Mississippi. “It was unbelievable. We held each other. Justice must be served.”
The wanted warrant was discovered last week by a five-member search team led by members of the Till family, including Deborah Watts and her daughter Terri. An image of the subpoena, provided to CNN by the organization, charges JW Milam, Roy Bryant and Bryant’s then-wife – identified in the document as Ms. Roy Bryant – with kidnapping and warrants their arrest. This Order is dated August 29, 1955, and signed by the Leflore County Clerk.
The two men were acquitted of Emmett’s murder soon after by an all-white jury, though they later admitted the murder in an interview with Look. magazine. Milam died in 1980 and Bryant died in 1994, but his widow – now Carolyn Bryant Donham – is still alive, and the Emmett family hopes a warrant for her arrest and eventual justice.
“Justice must be served,” Watts told CNN, adding, “Emmett led us there. I know it in my heart.”
The image of the subpoena shows that the current Leflore County clerk certified the document as authentic on June 21. With no action from law enforcement as a result of the discovery, the family considered taking the initiative. Help bring to justice in Emmett’s brutal murder.
“We were thinking about things like arresting citizens,” Watts said. “If the authorities don’t do this, what can we do?” Watts told CNN.
The family believes the subpoena is new evidence that has gone unreported for decades, Watts added, and when it was found, the family was emotional.
“It was overwhelming. … We were shocked too,” Watts said.
Terri Watts echoed those thoughts: “I had to go through the subpoena over and over again just to make sure it was real,” she said.
Terri Watts said: “I definitely want to take a look.
Neither Donham nor the Leflore County Clerk’s Office responded to CNN’s request for comment.
The professor claims Donham withdrew his testimony that Emmett Till grabbed her
While the murder of Emmett remains a landmark in America’s long struggle with racial injustice and inequality, to this day, no one has been held criminally accountable.
The 14-year-old boy from Chicago was visiting family in Mississippi when he had a fateful meeting with Carolyn Bryant, then 20 years old. Accounts from that date vary, but witnesses are believed to be Emmett who whistled at the woman at the market she owned with her husband in Money, Mississippi.
In 1955, Donham testified that Emmett took her hand, her waist, and proposed to her, saying he had dated “White women before”. But years later, when Professor Timothy Tyson gave that trial testimony in a 2008 interview with Donham, he claimed that she told him, “That part isn’t true.”
Emmett’s death attracted attention far beyond Mississippi, after a photo of his mutilated body was published in Jet Magazine and went viral around the world. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, asked him to hold an open coffin funeral so the world could see her son’s injuries and the aftermath of racial terrorism – a decision that helped spur promote the civil rights movement.
CNN’s Devon Sayers, Elizabeth Joseph and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.