Prosecutor who worked on 1 renewal of Emmett Till case dies

Sep 26, 2022, 3:11 AM | Updated: 3:15 pm
FILE - Joyce Chiles, chief prosecutor for Mississippi's Fourth Judicial District, is seen in her of...

FILE - Joyce Chiles, chief prosecutor for Mississippi's Fourth Judicial District, is seen in her office on Aug. 12, 2005, Greenville, Miss. The Mississippi prosecutor, who was involved in one of the renewed investigations into the 1955 killing of Black teenager Emmett Till, died Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. She was 67. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis, File)

(AP Photo/Rogelio Solis, File)

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Funeral services were held Monday for the Mississippi prosecutor who worked on one of the renewed investigations into the 1955 lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till, a killing that galvanized the civil rights movement after his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral so people could see her son’s mutilated body.

Joyce Chiles died of lung cancer Thursday at a hospital in Ruleville, a coroner told the Greenwood Commonwealth. She was 67. Services were Monday in Itta Bena.

Chiles was elected in 2003 as district attorney for three Mississippi Delta counties — Leflore, Washington and Sunflower — and served one term before deciding not to seek reelection. She was the first Black person, and the first woman, to hold the position.

In 2007, Chiles presented evidence to a grand jury of Black and white Leflore County residents after investigators spent three years re-examining the killing of Till. The FBI exhumed Till’s body to prove that he, and not someone else, was buried at his gravesite in the Chicago suburb of Alsip. The grand jury declined to issue indictments against anyone.

The FBI had reopened the case in 2004 after filmmaker Keith Beauchamp compiled a list of at least 14 people — Black and white — he thought had some role in the kidnapping, beating and slaying of Till. He went to the authorities with the names of five people who were still alive. The Justice Department said the statute of limitations had expired on any potential federal crime, but the FBI worked with state investigators to determine if state charges could be brought.

Chiles told The Associated Press in 2007 that the renewed investigation did not produce evidence to support indictments.

´´We are justice seekers and not head hunters,´´ Chiles said.

Till, a 14-year-old Chicago resident, was visiting family in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1955. He and other young people went to a country store in the town of Money, and relatives have told the AP that Till whistled at a white woman working there, Carolyn Bryant. They denied that he touched her, as Bryant had claimed.

Four days later, white men kidnapped Till from his uncle’s home and killed the teenager, then dumped his body into the Tallahatchie River. The mutilated body was found days later, weighted down by a cotton-gin fan.

After Till’s funeral in Chicago, Jet magazine published a photo of his body.

A jury of white men acquitted Carolyn Bryant’s husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam of murder charges a few weeks after the killing, but the two men later told Look magazine that they had abducted and killed Till.

In 2018, the Justice Department reopened an investigation after a 2017 book quoted Carolyn Bryant — by then known as Carolyn Bryant Donham — saying she lied when she claimed Till grabbed her and made sexual advances. The department closed that investigation in late 2021 without bringing charges.

The FBI again reopened an investigation this year after people searching the Leflore County Courthouse basement found an unserved arrest warrant for Carolyn Bryant. In August, another Leflore County grand jury declined to indict her.

In the 2007 AP interview, Chiles said it would have been easy for members of the grand jury more than 50 years later to indict someone “based solely on the emotion and rage that they felt.” She commended them for not doing that.

Chiles said she had grown up on a plantation near where Till’s body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River.

Speaking of Donham, Chiles said: ´´I didn’t feel good toward her; I still don’t feel good toward her.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

murders...
Associated Press

Appeals court upholds most Eyman campaign finance violations

A Washington state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld most of the campaign finance violations that longtime anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman was found liable for last year.
18 hours ago
A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nes...
Associated Press

No northern giant hornets found in 2022 in Washington state

Citizen trapping of northern giant hornets in northwest Washington ended Nov. 30 without any confirmed sightings of the hornets this year, state officials said Tuesday.
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Deep, 5.8 magnitude quake shakes Indonesia’s capital

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A strong and deep earthquake shook Indonesia’s capital and other parts of the main island Java on Thursday but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties. High-rises in Jakarta, the capital, swayed for several seconds and some ordered evacuations. The U.S. Geological Survey said the 5.8 magnitude earthquake […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Military personnel watch as Air Force One, with President Donald Trump, aboard prepares to d...
Associated Press

Boeing’s last 747 to roll out of Washington state factory

SEATTLE (AP) — After more than half a century, the last Boeing 747 rolled out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday. The 747 jumbo jet has taken on numerous roles — a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft — since it debuted […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Jailed, former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina attends his pre-trial hearing for alle...
Associated Press

Guatemalan court convicts ex-president of fraud, conspiracy

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A court in Guatemala convicted former President Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president, Roxana Baldetti, on fraud and conspiracy counts Wednesday. Their sentences have yet to be announced. Both were acquitted of illegal enrichment charges. Pérez Molina and Baldetti resigned in 2015 and have been in custody on charges of […]
18 hours ago
Hywind Scotland, the world's first commercial wind farm using floating wind turbines, is visible of...
Associated Press

1st US floating offshore wind auction nets $757M in bids

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The first-ever U.S. auction of leases to develop commercial-scale floating wind farms in the deep waters off the West Coast attracted $757 million in winning bids Wednesday from mostly European companies, in a project watched by other regions and countries just getting their own plans for floating offshore wind started. The […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Prosecutor who worked on 1 renewal of Emmett Till case dies