Emmett Till relative reacts to news of no indictment for woman at center of 1955 murder

Carolyn Bryant vintage photo
Carolyn Bryant (wife of Roy Bryant) sitting on grass. Roy was accused of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955. Photo credit File Photo/The Commercial Appeal-USA TODAY NETWORK

A Mississippi grand jury has decided not to indict the white woman whose accusation in 1955 led to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, and now his Chicago area family is reacting.

Emmett Till’s cousin Ollie Gordon now lives in the south suburbs.

In 1955, she lived in the family home where Emmett Till lived, at 64th and St. Lawrence, and she remembers hearing about what happened in Mississippi.

“At age 7, what I recall is getting the news that he had been taken, and that was hopeful,” she told WBBM Newsradio on Tuesday. “But then when they got the news that they had found the body, of course it was chaos. It was pain. It was hurt. It was screaming. It was crying.”

Now, despite recent news of the discovery of an unserved arrest warrant from the ‘50s for Emmett Till’s accuser Carolyn Bryant Donham — and reports of her recanting statements — a grand jury has declined to indict her.

“They can only try people based on concrete evidence, and it appears that in all these years they just don’t have that on Carolyn,” Gordon says.

Gordon says she can’t say she is disappointed because she did not expect an indictment.