Emmett Till Case

NBC 5 Obtains Copy of Leaked 2008 Memoir from Emmett Till Accuser

"We believe she is continuing to tell lies," said Chris Benson, who co-authored a book about Emmett Till with Till's cousin Wheeler Parker. "This is a person who we strongly believe had something to do with the abduction and potentially even the lynching of Emmett Till – but there is no way to establish that as a legal matter at this point."

NBC Universal, Inc.

A copy of the unreleased memoir manuscript attributed to Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of whistling at her in a Mississippi store in 1955, has surfaced and been obtained by NBC 5, adding another layer to the events that led to Till's murder.

The manuscript, titled "I Am More Than a Wolf Whistle," was supposed to be kept in the University of North Carolina’s archives for at least another decade but began to circulate earlier this month.

In the text of the copy obtained by NBC 5, Bryant Donham sticks to what she testified during Till's murder trial. She said that Till whistled at her after grabbing her hand and waist and propositioning her inside the store, points that have been repeatedly disputed by Till's surviving family members who witnessed what happened that day.

Bryant Donham said those statements in court during the murder trial of her then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam. Roy Bryant later confessed to murdering Till.

NBC Chicago and the Collaboraction Theatre Company bring to life the Emmett Till murder trial in a staged theatrical adaptation "The Lost Story of Emmett Till: Trial in the Delta."

In the leaked memoir, Bryant Donham also says she screamed when she encountered Till, something that Till's cousin, Wheeler Parker, says never happened.

In the NBC 5 documentary "The Lost Story of Emmett Till," both Parker and fellow witness Simeon Wright say that Till whistled but that nothing else occurred.

Chris Benson, who cowrote a book with Parker titled "A Few Days Full of Trouble," calls Bryant Donham’s version of events in her manuscript "lies."

"We believe she is continuing to tell lies," Benson said. "This is a person who we strongly believe had something to do with the abduction and potentially even the lynching of Emmett Till – but there is no way to establish that as a legal matter at this point."

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a Black teenager from Chicago, and the acquittal of the two white men who killed him, was a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. But almost as fast as Emmett’s name became known around the world, it began to fade. How did it happen? How could people forget the torture of a 14-year-old boy? Investigative journalist Marion Brooks details the events surrounding the case to unveil the context behind the lost story of Emmett Till.

Roy Bryant and Milam were tried and acquitted in the murder, but later admitted to the killing in an article in Look magazine.

Benson says the manuscript has several key contradictions and says that the public will likely be outraged when it reads her version of events.

"I think people are going to be outraged," he said. "In particular when they realize what she is saying and that she is unrepentant. It really disturbs us that there can be no justice in this case."

The release of the manuscript coincides with the discovery of an arrest warrant that included Bryant Donham’s name, a fact that she acknowledges in the manuscript.

That warrant, which included Bryant Donham's name as a person involved in Till’s kidnapping, was discovered in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse.

She was not arrested on the warrant and has not been charged in the case after multiple investigations by the FBI.

NBC 5 made attempts to contact Bryant Donham, now 88 and living in North Carolina, via email and by phone, but those attempts were unsuccessful.

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