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July 12, 2018
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Justice Department is reopening the investigation into the death of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy whose brutal murder in 1955 added to the momentum of the Civil Rights movement, The Associated Press reports.

While the case initially closed in 2007, its reopening comes after witness Carolyn Donham admitted in 2008 that she was misleading when she testified that Till whistled at her and made sexual advances in a store in Mississippi. Donham's then-husband and his half brother were accused of murdering Till after the alleged advances — going to his home to abduct him, beat him, shoot him, mutilate his body, and finally dump it in the Tallahatchie River. The men were acquitted, but later confessed to the crime and were not retried; they are both now dead.

The Justice Department cited "new information" as cause for reopening the case, with people close to the investigation suggesting that information might be from a book published last year, The Blood of Emmett Till, which contains Donham's confession. Donham will be 84 this month.

"We're happy … that ultimately or finally someone can be held responsible for his murder," said Paula Johnson, the co-director of Syracuse University's Cold Case Justice Initiative. Jeva Lange