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Justice Dept. Reopens Emmett Till Murder Case

Till was kidnapped and murdered in 1955 after allegedly whistling at a shopkeeper. His mutliated body was found three days later.

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice is reopening its investigation into the death of Emmett Till, a black teenager whose brutal 1955 murder in Mississippi was a driving force behind the civil rights movement.

A DOJ report submitted to Congress in April says the agency is re-investigating Till's death after receiving new information.

Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago, was kidnapped from his uncle's home in the town of Money and killed after allegedly wolf-whistling at Carolyn Donham, a shopkeeper's wife. 

Till's mutilated body was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River. He was missing his left eye and his face was so battered that he was identified only by the ring he was wearing.

His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, held an open-casket funeral for her son. Photographs of his face, published in Jet Magazine, helped inspire the civil rights movement.

Carolyn Donham's then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his brother, J.W. Milam, were charged in Till's murder. Both men were acquitted, but later confessed to the crime in an article published in Look magazine.

Bryant and Milam are both deceased. Donham, now 84, lives in North Carolina.

There have been several attempts to reopen in the case over the last 50 years. In 2004, the federal government took another look at the case; it closed its investigation in 2007 without filing charges.

The Justice Department has not provided further comment on the investigation or the evidence that led the agency to reopen the case.

The federal government reopened the investigation in 2004 but closed it in 2007. No charges were filed.

The Justice Department has not provided further comment on the investigation or the evidence that led the agency to reopen the case.

(Photo from the Bettmann Collection/Getty.)

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