A team investigating Emmett Till’s killing has found an unserved warrant charging a white woman in his 1955 kidnapping, HuffPost reports. Now, Till’s family wants her to be charged almost 70 years after the document wasn’t served.
The warrant, which was for Carolyn Bryant Donham, who’s referred to as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” in the document, was found last week. Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill told The Associated Press that the investigative team was searching the basement of a Mississippi courthouse for evidence when they discovered a file folder that had been placed in a box.
“They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s and got lucky,” Stockstill said, according to the Associated Press.
He also certified that the warrant, dated Aug. 29, 1955, was legitimate.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation started the search, which was led by two Till family members: cousin Deborah Watts, head of the foundation, and her daughter, Teri Watts. They are asking police to use the warrant to arrest Donham, who at the time was married to one of the white men acquitted weeks after Till was abducted, killed and dumped into a river.
“Serve it and charge her,” Teri told The Associated Press.
Donham accused 14-year-old Till of making inappropriate advances toward her at a store in Money, Mississippi. Till’s cousin, who was with him at the time, said that the teenager whistled at the woman.
According to the Associated Press, evidence shows that a woman identified Till to his killers.
An arrest warrant against Donham was publicized at the time, but the Leflore County sheriff told reporters he didn’t want to “bother” the woman because she had two young children to take care of.
Donham is now in her 80s and has yet to comment publicly on calls for her prosecution. However, Till’s family believes the warrant counts as new evidence and that the case should be reopened.
District Attorney Dewayne Richardson’s office has denied commenting on the warrant, AP reports. However, the office cited a December report from the Justice Department about Till’s case, which stated that prosecution is not possible.
Ronald J. Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi, said that the chances of a warrant from 1955 being admissible in court is not likely, according to the Associated Press.
However, if an older warrant reveals new evidence, it “absolutely” could be a stepping stone in establishing probable cause for new prosection, Rychlak said.
“If you went in front of a judge you could say, ‘Once upon a time a judge determined there was probable cause, and much more information is available today,'” he added, AP reports.