The woman whose false accusations led to the death of Emmett Till has been spotted for the first time in almost 20 years. The last time Carolyn Bryant Donham was seen was in 2004.
Photos of Carolyn Bryant Donham were snapped by the Daily Mail outside of her Kentucky home. Donham, 88, was seen walking hunched over and looking pale, weak and frail. She was seen walking her shih tzu while wearing a nasal cannula. She currently diagnosed with cancer is and is receiving hospice care in her home. She’s also legally blind. She lives with her son, 71-year-old Thomas Bryant. When asked if his mother would speak about Emmett Till’s 1955 murder, he shook his head no.
An arrest warrant for Donham that was never served was discovered by the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation which included two members of Till’s family: his cousin Deborah Watts and her daughter, Teri Watts. Watts is the head of the foundation. The arrest warrant was discovered in the basement of a Mississippi court. Donham is referred to as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” on the document.
Till, who was from Chicago, was visiting Mississippi during the summer of 1955. On August 24, 1955, he visited Donham’s family store where she was working. Till’s cousin, Wheeler Parker, said he whistled at the 21-year-old Donham, but that’s not what she told her husband. Donham told Roy Bryant that he grabbed her and made an obscene comment. Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, then went to Till’s great-uncle’s home where he was staying two nights later. They murdered him and threw his body in the Tallahatchie River. They weighed his body down with a fan from a cotton gin.
Bryant and Milan were later acquitted of the murder. According to NBC, Donham was named on the same warrant as the two men but wasn’t arrested nor prosecuted. The Watts want Donham to be arrested and charged.
Donham admitted that she lied about her encounter with Till during an interview in Timothy B. Tyson’s book The Blood of Emmett Till.