File photos of John W. Milam, 35, left, his half-brother Roy Bryant, 24 , centre, who go on trial in Sumner, Miss., Sept. 18, 1955, are charged with the murder of 14-year-old African American Emmett L.Till from Chicago, who is alleged to have "whistled" and made advances at Bryant's wife Carolyn, seen right. (AP Photo)

An unserved arrest warrant in the lynching case of Black teenager Emmett Till nearly 70 years ago has been found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse. 

The original warrant is for Carolyn Bryant Donham and is dated Aug. 29, 1955. It was found last week by a search group in a file folder in a box in the Leflore County courthouse, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. 

The group that found the warrant included members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and two of Till’s relatives: Deborah Watts, Till’s cousin, co-founder and leader of foundation, and her daughter, Teri Watts. 

In March, Watts, other family members and supporters visited the Mississippi State Capitol to deliver a petition to state officials and call for Donham to be charged for Till’s lynching. 

“We made a promise to Mamie (Till) that we would persist, and that’s why we’re here today,” Deborah Watts said in March.  

Donham is now in her 80s and most recently lived in North Carolina. 

She is the former wife of Roy Bryant, one of the men who kidnapped and killed Till in the Mississippi Delta in 1955. Till was 14 years old and was visiting family from Chicago when he whistled at Donham inside the store where she was working.  

Donham testified in court Till grabbed her and made unwanted advances toward her. In a 2017 book by Timothy Tyson, Donham said the allegations were false. She later disputed the claim and recanted her story, according to the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.  

The U.S. Department of Justice has investigated Till’s case multiple times but did not file additional charges


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Mina, a California native, covers the criminal justice system. Before joining Mississippi Today, she was a reporter for the Clarion Ledger and newspapers in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and USA Today.