US closes investigation into notorious Emmett Till civil rights murder
Emmett Till

The US Justice Department announced on Monday that it has ended its investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, an African-American teenager whose brutal slaying galvanized the civil rights movement.

Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago, was abducted and murdered in August 1955 while visiting relatives in the southern state of Mississippi.

His mutilated body was found three days later in a local river.

Till's mother famously insisted that her son's remains be displayed in an open casket to show to the world what had been done to her boy.

The Justice Department reopened its probe into Till's murder in 2018 after a key witness allegedly recanted her account of the events that led to his death.

Till was murdered several days after a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, alleged that he had propositioned her in a store and touched her on the arm, hand and waist.

Two white Mississippi men, Roy Bryant, Carolyn Bryant's husband, and J.W. Milam, his half-brother, were arrested for Till's murder but acquitted by an all-white jury.

The pair later admitted in a magazine interview that they had killed the boy.

Roy Bryant died in 1994 and Milam died in 1981.

The Justice Department reopened the case after an author, Timothy B. Tyson, wrote in his book, "The Blood of Emmett Till," that Carolyn Bryant, now known as Carolyn Donham, had recanted portions of her testimony in interviews he conducted with her.

But the Justice Department said Donham "denied to the FBI that she ever recanted her testimony and provided no information beyond what was uncovered during the previous federal investigation."

"Although lying to the FBI is a federal offense, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she lied to the FBI when she denied having recanted to the professor," the department said in a statement.

"The government's re-investigation found no new evidence suggesting that either the woman or any other living person was involved in Till's abduction and murder," it said.

Till's cousin, Thelma Wright Edwards, 90, said she was "not surprised" that the case had been closed but her "heart is broken."

"I have no hate in my heart but I had hoped we could get an apology," she said at a press conference. "That didn't happen. The case is closed and we have to go on from here."