Category Archives: Black history

George Whitmore Jr Crucified

George Whitmore Jr Crucified

We seem to differentiate the mistreatment and torture of the enslaved from the miscarriage and misuse of justice when slavery legally ended. I don't know why. It seems to me such wrongs need no differentiation.

The story of George Whitmore, Jr is a long one. One that is difficult to read. We keep hoping  someone will stop the story, but it keeps going and going and going.

In our eagerness to solve a mystery and ease our pain, we too often create a truth and point a finger at a person we say "Did it. They are  guilty."

We make an arrest. We have a trial. We find the alleged guilty. We will allow local, state, and federal appeals, but we will put them to death or sentence them to die imprisoned.

That was the sentence we gave to George Whitmore, Jr. An innocent man.

Career Girl murders

George Whitmore Jr Crucified
Janice Wylie and Emily Hoffert
August 28, 1963: Janice Wylie, a 21-year-old Newsweek magazine researcher and summer stock actress, and Emily Hoffert, a 23-year-old teacher, were stabbed to death in the apartment they shared at 57 E. 88th Street in Manhattan; Wylie was raped. Wylie is the daughter of Max Wylie, a New York novelist, playwright, and advertising executive. Hoffert is the daughter of a Minneapolis surgeon. The media will call it the Career-Girl Murders. George Whitmore, Jr listened to Kin’g speech in his Wildwood, NJ home. In seven months, Whitmore, an African-American drifter with a limited IQ, will be picked out of a photo lineup by a woman who had been assaulted.
George Whitmore Jr Crucified
The scene of the crime where Janice Wylie and Emily Hoffert were murdered.
August 30, 1963: Newsweek offered a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the murderer or murderers.

Minnie Edmonds

April 14, 1964: Minnie Edmonds, a 46-year-old African American cleaning woman and mother of five, was stabbed to death by a man who attempted to snatch her purse near Sutter Avenue and Chester Street in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. 

Elba Borrero

April 23, 1964: Elba Borrero, a 21-year-old Puerto Rican practical nurse, was assaulted at 1:15 a.m. in what she described as an attempted purse-snatching in Brownsville. NYPD Patrolman Frank Isola heard  Borrero scream and ran to the scene. He fired four warning shots at the fleeing assailant. Police Sergeant Thomas J. Collier interviewed Borrero and wrote a report describing the assailant as "an unnamed Negro" and the crime as an attempted purse-snatching. Borrero gave a button that she had ripped off the assailant’s coat to the police after the assault, Patrolman Frank Isola encountered George Whitmore Jr. on the street, but concluded that Whitmore was shorter and thinner than the man he saw running from the scene.

George Whitmore

April 24, 1964: cruising Brownsville, NYPD Patrolman Frank Isola and Detective Richard Aidala spotted Whitmore and, despite the discrepancy between his appearance and that of the assailant Isola had seen, took Whitmore to the 73d Precinct station for questioning. After Detective Aidala called Elba Borrero and told her a suspect was in custody, she viewed Whitmore through a peephole in a door and said Whitmore was the man who tried to rape her. (This was the first mention of attempted rape.) Whitmore had in his possession a photograph of a young white woman whom Detective Edward Bulger identified as Janice Wylie.

April 25, 1964: after 26 hours of interrogation, George Whitmore, Jr., a 19-year-old eighth-grade dropout with a 90 IQ, signed a 61-page confession admitting to

a) the murders of Wylie, Hoffert; (see May 6)

b) the murder of Minnie Edmonds; (see April 28)

c) attempted rape of Elba Borrero. (see May 6)

April 28, 1964: Whitmore  indicted in for the Minnie Edmonds murder. His court-appointed attorney, Jerome Leftow, stated that Whitmore had repudiated the confessions, claiming he was beaten during interrogation, and would like to take a lie-detector test. 

May 5, 1964: Whitmore indicted in Kings County for the attempted rape and assault of Elba Borrero.

May 6, 1964: Whitmore indicted in New York County for the Wylie-Hoffert crime.

Richard Robles

October 31, 1964: Police disclosed that they were questioning another unidentified suspect in the Wylie-Hoffert case. The suspect was identified as a white 19-year-old narcotics addict who had a record of burglary and sexual assault. (Evidently the suspect was Richard Robles, although Robles is not 19 but in his early 20s.

November 9, 1964: Whitmore’s trial for the attempted rape and assault of Borrero opened in Brooklyn. (When a defendant faces trials for more than one crime, it is a common tactic of prosecutors to try the least serious case first so that, if convicted, the defendant will have a criminal record when he goes to trial for a more serious crime. This will discourage the defendant from taking the stand in the latter trial. If the defendant nonetheless chooses to testify, the prior conviction may be used for impeachment purposes on cross examination. It also may be used against the defendant at sentencing.) 

Whitmore convicted

November 18, 1964.: Whitmore convicted by a jury before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice David L. Malbin of the Elba Borrero assault and attempted rape, but Malbin delayed sentencing pending Whitmore’s trial for the Wylie-Hoffert murders.

January 22, 1965: The New York Times quoted Stanley J. Reiben, George Whitmore, Jr.’s pro bono lawyer, as saying that the photo found in Whitmore’s possession was not a photo of Wylie but of a women named Arlene Franco, who lived in Wildwood, N.J. 

George Whitmore Jr Crucified

January 26, 1965: Richard “Ricky” Robles, a white 22-year-old narcotics addict, charged with the Wylie-Hoffert crime. While not dismissing the indictment against George Whitmore, Jr., New York County DA Frank S. Hogan presented a 1,400-word recommendation that Whitmore be released on his own recognizance. The document seemed to absolve Whitmore of the crime, as did a statement Hogan released to the press. Says the latter, "In spite of every safeguard, occasional honest mistakes are made. To eliminate even this minute fraction of error is the ceaseless effort of those entrusted with the administration of justice." Hogan’s recommendation that Whitmore be released was accepted, although it was a meaningless gesture, given that Whitmore was being held pending sentencing for the Borrero crime and pending trial for the Edmonds murder. 

January 27, 1965: The New York Times quotes an unnamed assistant to NY County DA Frank Hogan as saying, "I am positive that the police prepared the confession for George Whitmore, Jr., just as his lawyer charged a few days ago. I am also sure that the police were the ones who gave Whitmore all the details of the killings that he recited to our office.” 

January 29, 1965: Kings County DA Aaron E. Koota met with five representatives of the Brooklyn N.A.A.C.P. who demand that he dismiss the indictment against Whitmore for the Minnie Edmonds murder. Koota refused and told the press that Whitmore’s "guilt or innocence of this crime should be determined by a jury based on all the evidence in the case."

January 30, 1965: The New York Times published an editorial praising both Stanley J. Reiben (Whitmore’s lawyer) and Frank Hogan (NY prosecutor)  for acting "in the highest tradition of the bar." The editorial said that the case "provokes fresh doubt" about the validity of the death penalty and urged its abolition. 

February 1, 1965: Whitmore’s former attorney, Jerome Leftow, and one of this current attorneys, Arthur H. Miller, revealed that Whitmore had been given "truth serum" (sodium amytal) at Bellevue Hospital and, while under the influence of the drug, had consistently maintained his innocence. The N.A.A.C.P. and ACLU asked Governor Nelson Rockefeller and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to investigate the circumstances that led to Whitmore’s false confession in the Wylie-Hoffert case. 

February 2, 1965: a U.S. Justice Department spokesperson said the department was "following the situation closely." 

Governor Nelson Rockefeller

February 4, 1965: NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller refused  the NAACP’s demand for an investigation. The Governor stated that he had “no jurisdiction over the courts and therefore it would be inappropriate to seek to intervene in matters pending before them.”

Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley J Reiben, filed an affidavit opposing a blue-ribbon jury. Reiben said that such a jury would be a “lily-white all-male” jury, which would enhance “the conviction ration of the District attorney.”

Stanley J Reiben

February 11, 1965: Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley J Reiben filed a motion asking Justice Malbin to set aside George Whitmore, Jr.’s conviction in the Elba Borrero attempted rape/robbery case on the grounds that police lacked probable cause to arrest Whitmore and that his confession, therefore, whether voluntary or involuntary, should have been suppressed at the trial. The motion stated that Detective Aidala had testified before the grand jury that he had arrested Whitmore on a Brooklyn street — a concession that police lacked probable cause.

The motion also stated that, in an unrelated case, Detective Edward Bulger (the detective who had incorrectly said the picture Whitmore had in his possession was one of  the murdered Janice Wylie) had obtained a confession from 22-year-old David Coleman to the 1960 murder of a 77-year-old woman in Brooklyn — a crime for which Coleman is on death row. 

February 14, 1965: District Attorney Aaron E Koota agreed to reopen the David Coleman case. 

Richard Robles indicted

February 15, 1965: Richard Robles indicted for the Wylie/Hoffert murders. Robles "maintains his innocence," according to his court-appointed attorney.
George Whitmore Jr Crucified
February 17, 1965: Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley J Reiben, said that he had covered the route supposed to have been followed by Whitmore before the attack on Elba Borrero and stated that Whitmore “would have to have a vehicle or be an Olympic runner” to get from his former girl friend’s house to an elevated subway station seven blocks away, follow Borrero back from the station nearly five blocks to her home, attack her, and run away.

March 1, 1965: Gerald Corbin, a juror in the Elba Borrero case, testified at a hearing before Justice Malbin on the motion for a new trial that "practically everyone" on the jury knew that George Whitmore, Jr. had been charged with the Wylie-Hoffert crime. According to Corbin, one of his fellow jurors had stated, "This is nothing compared to what he is going to get in New York."

Corbin also testified that at least one juror "on more than one occasion" used racial slurs referring to the sexual proclivities of Negroes and Puerto Ricans. “Whitmore,” said the juror in question, “was guilty of attempted rape because Negros are "like jackrabbits" and "got to have their intercourse all the time." An FBI report, which the prosecution had withheld at the trial, was introduced at the hearing. It stated that the button Borrero ripped from her assailant’s coat differed in size and color from the buttons on the tan poplin raincoat Whitmore was wearing when he was taken into custody. 

District Attorney Aaron Koota

March 2, 1965: District Attorney Aaron Koota conceded that George Whitmore, Jr. deserved a new trial in the Borrero case, but Justice Malbin reserved ruling. 

March 3, 1965: At a hearing before Justice Dominic S. Rinaldi, before whom the Minnie Edmonds case was pending, defense lawyers moved to suppress Whitmore’s confession on the ground that police lacked probable cause to arrest him and that, in any event, the confession was unworthy of belief in view of Whitmore’s false confession in the Wylie-Hoffert case.

On the probable cause issue, Detective Richard Aidala testified that he erred when he told the grand jury that he had arrested Whitmore on the street. In fact, Aidala asserted, he merely asked Whitmore to go to the station, Whitmore "willingly agreed," and the arrest was not made until Borrero identified Whitmore.

Patrolman Frank Isola

March 8, 1965: Patrolman Frank Isola testified before Justice Dominic Rinaldi that he did not arrest George Whitmore, Jr. upon their initial encounter, five hours after the Borrero assault, because Whitmore "did not appear to be same man" he had seen fleeing the scene. 

March 9, 1965:  Police Sergeant Thomas J. Collier, who took the initial report from Elba Borrero, testified that Borrero did not mention the attempted rape but rather alleged only that her assailant "attempted to take her pocketbook."

March 19, 1965: NY Supreme Court Justice David L. Malbin found  that the jury in the Elba Borrero case had been influenced by "prejudice and racial bias" and reversed George Whitmore, Jr.’s conviction, granting him a new trial. Malbin stated: “The hearing revealed that prejudice and racial bias invaded the jury room. Bigotry I any of its sinister forms is reprehensible, it must be crushed, never to rise again. It has no place in an American courts of Justice.

On the same day, a bipartisan commission recommended  the end of capital punishment in New York State.

DA Frank Hogan

March 25, 1965: DA Frank Hogan dismissed first-degree murder charges against two drifters — James Stewart, 24, and R. L. Douglas, 32 — who had been charged with the hammer-slaying of John Walshinsky, a derelict — a crime to which Stewart and Douglas confessed. The men said  that the confessions were beaten out of them.

March 26, 1965: Justice Dominic Rinaldi ruled that Whitmore’s confession to the Minnie Edmonds murder was voluntary and admissible. Rinaldi chastises Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley Reiben, for "talking to the newspapers" about the case.

April 2, 196: The N.A.A.C.P. revealed that Detective Edward Bulger, in addition to his involvement in obtaining the dubious David Coleman confession (see Feb 11, 1965), also had been accused in another case of obtaining a confession by fraud from a man named Charles Everett. If Everett would admit the crime, Detective Bulger allegedly promised to intercede with the victim to work out a light sentence. The victim in fact was dead. Everett was convicted of murder, but his conviction was later reversed.

Blue-ribbon juries

April 6, 1965: The New York Assembly passed a bill to abolish blue-ribbon juries in New York City. Blue ribbon juries were established in the 1930s and are made up of persons selected on the basis of education and economic status.

April 12, 1965: Whitmore’s trial for the  Minnie Edmonds slaying opened before an all-male blue-ribbon jury and Kings County Supreme Court Justice Dominic S. Rinaldi. (Blue-ribbon juries — criticized by liberal groups as self-righteous and conviction-prone — are composed of persons from high educational and economic levels and permitted in counties with more than a million population under a New York statute enacted in the 1930s.)

April 14, 1965: Detective Joseph Di Pima testified that George Whitmore, Jr.’s confessions were voluntary, telling the jury, "All I had to say to him was: "What happened next George?"

April 19, 1965: In view of the "the antipathy and antagonism" Justice Dominic Rinaldi had shown Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley Reiben, Reiben asked to withdraw from the case, saying he can no longer effectively represent his client. Rinaldi denied the request.

April 21, 1965: The prosecution rested in the Minnie Edmonds murder trial.

April 23, 1965: Whitmore  testified that Detective Aidala and Patrolman Frank Isola beat him. 

April 28, 1965: Prosecutor Sidney A. Lichtman told the jury that the Wylie-Hoffert indictment was still pending in Manhattan. Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley Reiben argued, "How can the Wylie-Hoffert confession be bad and the others good beyond a reasonable doubt, given the same day to the same detectives  Is it possible for Wylie-Hoffert to be phony while the others are not?"

May 4, 1965: DA Frank Hogan formally dismissed the Wylie-Hoffert indictment pending against Whitmore.

May 5, 1965: DA Aaron Koota said his office would again try George Whitmore, Jr. for the Elba Borrero attempted assault and rape in Brooklyn.

Abolishing the death penalty

May 13, 1965: The New York Senate by a vote of forty-seven to nine approved a bill abolishing the death penalty for all murders except those of peace officers or prison guards and murders committed during an escape.

May 19, 1965: The New York Assembly passes the abolition bill by a vote of seventy-eight to sixty-seven.

May 22, 1965: The New York State Association of Trial Lawyers and the Northern New York Conference of the Methodist Church urged Governor Rockefeller to sign a bill that would virtually abolish capital punishment in the state. 

May 26, 1965: Justice Vincent D. Damiani of Kings County Supreme Court granted a motion by Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley J Reiben,  requiring DA Aaron Koota to bring Whitmore to trial for the Minnie Edmonds murder before retrying him for the lesser crime against Borrero. Damiani wrote,  "To permit the defendant to be tried again on the lesser charge of attempted rape before his trial on the more serious indictment for murder will result in further publicity and substantially increase the difficulty in selecting an impartial jury in the murder case.” 

June 1, 1965: NY Gov Nelson Rockefeller signed the abolition of death penalty bill. 

June 3, 1965: DA Aaron Koota argued before George J. Beldock, presiding justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, that Justice Vincent Damiani had no authority to exert control over the prosecution calendar. Beldock directed Damiani to explain more fully why Whitmore should not be tried first for the Borrero case. 

June 8, 1965: the Appellate Division unanimously held that Whitmore may be tried first in the Elba Borrero case. 

July 15, 1965: Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed legislation abolishing blue-ribbon juries.

October 14, 1965: Richard Robles went on trial before a jury and New York County Supreme Court Justice Irwin D. Davidson for the Wylie-Hoffert murders. 

October 18, 1965: Prosecutors disclose that friends of Richard Robles cooperated in the surreptitious recording of conversations in which he admitted the double murder. When confronted with the tapes after his arrest, Robles "freely and voluntarily confessed" in the presence of eight police officers, including Thomas J. Cavanagh Jr., the commander of the Manhattan detective squad.

Richard Robles guilty

December 1, 1965: the jury found Richard Robles guilty. 

January 11, 1966: Justice Davidson sentenced Richard Robles to life in prison.

George Whitmore, Jr.’s retrial

March 22, 1966: George Whitmore, Jr.’s retrial for the attempted rape and assault of Elba Borrero opened before a Kings County jury and Supreme Court Justice Aaron F. Goldstein. 

March 23, 1966: after Detective Richard Aidala testified that Whitmore’s confession to the Elba Borrero crime was voluntary, Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley Reiben asked, "Did anyone coerce or force him into making the Wylie-Hoffert confession?" Justice Aaron Goldstein immediately dismissed the jury and then upbraided Reiben for his "intemperate question."

Out of the jury’s presence, Reiben labeled Aidala "the world’s biggest liar," and asked Goldstein, "How can I achieve justice unless I can establish this?" Goldstein said he would reserve ruling on the admissibility of the evidence resulting to Whitmore’s confession in the Wylie-Hoffert case. 

March 24, 1966: Justice Aaron Goldstein held evidence of the Wylie-Hoffert confession inadmissible. Whitmore’s attorney, Stanley Reiben waived further examination of witnesses, declaring that George Whitmore, Jr. cannot receive a fair trial absent the Wylie-Hoffert evidence. Both sides rest. (see Mar 25, 1966)

March 25, 1966: Whitmore convicted for the second time in the Elba Borrero attempted rape and assault case.

May 27, 1966: Justice Aaron Goldstein sentenced  Whitmore to five to ten years in prison for the attempted rape and assault. With time off for good behavior and credit for 25 months already served, Whitmore was eligible for release in 15 months. 

June 13, 1966: in Miranda v. Arizona the US. Supreme Court holds that police must warn suspects of their rights to remain silent and consult with a lawyer before submitting to questioning. 

June 30, 1966: on DA Aaron Koota’s motion, Kings County Supreme Court Justice Hyman Barshay dismissed the indictment against Whitmore in the Minnie Edmonds murder case. 

July 12, 1966: Justice Hyman Barshay set bail at $5,000 for George Whitmore, Jr. pending appeal of his conviction in the Elba Borrero case.

Whitmore released

July 13, 1966: Whitmore was released two years, eleven weeks, and three days after his arrest — 810 days in all —on bail guaranteed by NYC AM radio station WMCA. R Peter Straus, the station’s president, agreed to put up the necessary collateral and said that he had been interested in the case, had often commented editorially on it, and was concerned about a poor man unable to make bail. 

April 10, 1967: The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed George Whitmore, Jr.’s conviction in the Borrero case and granted him yet another trial, holding that "under the peculiar circumstances of this case, it was prejudicial error for the trial court to refuse to allow cross examination with reference to all of the defendant’s statements to the police."

April 13, 1967: DA Aaron Koota stated that "in the interests of justice" Whitmore  will be tried a third time for the Elba Borrero crime.

May 15, 1967: Whitmore’s third trial opened before Justice Julius Helf and in Kings County Supreme Court and jury selection completed. In view of the Miranda ruling, the confession is inadmissible. The case now rests entirely on Elsa Borrero’s identification.

May 16, 1967: both sides rest in the third Whitmore trial for assault and attempted rape of  Elba Borrero.

Whitmore guilty again

May 17, 1967: the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Whitmore was taken into custody for a psychiatric examination as required by state law. If he law did not so require, Justice Julius Helf stated, he would have continued Whitmore’s bail. 

June 8, 1967: Whitmore again sentenced to five to ten years in prison. 

June 15, 1967: Kings County Supreme Court Justice Philip M. Kleinfeld granted a motion to release George Whitmore, Jr. on $5,000 bail. The additional time he had spent in custody following his third conviction in the Elba Borrero case had added 395 days of incarceration to the 810 days he had served pending his first two trials and his first release on bail, bringing Whitmore’s total incarceration time to two years, fifteen weeks, and five days. 

July 25, 1968: The Appellate Division held George Whitmore, Jr.’s latest appeal in abeyance pending a hearing before Justice Julius Helf on the validity of the in-court identification by Elba Borrero in view of the fact that her initial identification of him was at a one-man show-up through a peephole.

November 5, 1968: Eugene Gold was elected Brooklyn District Attorney to succeed Aaron Koota. 

April 8, 1969: Justice Julius Helf upheld the validity of the identification, saying there was "an unmistakable ring of truth to her testimony."

Supreme Court

July 28, 1970: The Supreme Court’s Appellate Division unanimously affirmed George Whitmore, Jr.’s third conviction in the Elba Borrero case. 

September 24, 1970: New York Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Richard Robles in the Wylie-Hoffert case. 

April 21, 1971: The New York Court of Appeals by a four-to-three vote upheld the Whitmore conviction without an explanatory opinion. 

February 28, 1972: The U.S. the Supreme Court refused to disturb Whitmore’s conviction for the attempted rape and assault of a practical nurse Elba Borrero almost eight years earlier. 

December 22, 1972: Brooklyn DA Eugene Gold announced he was reopening the case in view of an affidavit obtained by TV journalist Selwyn Raab from Elba Borrero’s sister, Celeste Viruet, who lived near Borrero at the time of the assault but had since returned to her native Puerto Rico. The affidavit stated that before Borrero identified George Whitmore, Jr. police had shown her a photo array and she had identified another person as her assailant.

“The Marcus-Nelson Murders”

March 8, 1973: CBS aired "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," a three-hour film based on the Wylie-Hoffert murders with Telly Savalas staring as Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojack (later shortened to Kojak) — a character loosely based on Detective Cavanagh, who had been instrumental in developing the evidence that the murders were committed not by George Whitmore, Jr. but by Richard Robles.

Leon Vincent, superintendent of Green Haven prison in upstate NY, permitted George Whitmore to go to the sick ward and watch the show in privacy.

Whitmore released a final time

April 10, 1973: NY Supreme Court Justice Irwin Brownstein released Whitmore from jail at the request of Brooklyn DA Eugene Gold based on "fresh new evidence" indicating that Borrero’s identification of him was suspect." Gold told Brownstein, "If in fact he is guilty of these charges, surely his debt to society has been paid by his incarceration. If he is innocent, I pray that my action today will in some measure repay society’s debt to him." He termed Whitman’s treatment by the law “a disgrace.”  Justice Borwnstein stated, “It is indeed disgraceful that this defendant has been subjected to nine years of prosecution and appeals.”  Whitmore’s most recent incarceration totaled 406 days, bringing his total time behind bars to 1,216 days. 

April 16, 1979 : The NY Times reported that Whitmore’s $10 million claim against New York City for improper arrest and imprisonment and his request for a jury trial were dismissed for technical reasons the previous week by Justice William Bellard in State Supreme Court. 

April 22, 1985: Stanley J. Reiben, chief defense attorney in the George Whitmore murder case, died at his home in Manhattan after a long illness. He was 70 years old. 

November, 1986: Richard Robles, who had himself protested his innocence over the original double-murders, admitted his guilt to a parole board hearing. He had broken into the flat in order to obtain money for drugs and had assumed at first it was empty.

Richard Robles tells his story

October 2, 1988: The New York Times published an article by Selwyn Raab, who interviewed Richard Robles in light of a forthcoming pardon hearing. Raab quoted Robles as saying that he broke into the Wylie-Hoffert apartment believing no one was home. He was looking for money to support his $15-a-day heroin habit, but when he encountered Wylie he raped her. Then he bound her and was preparing to leave when Hoffert came home. He took $30 from her purse and bound her as well. As he again prepared to leave, Hoffert said, "I"m going to remember you for the police. You"re going to jail." When she said that, Robles continued, "I just went bananas. My head just exploded. I got to kill. You"re mind just races and races. It’s almost like you"re not you." He said he clubbed both women unconscious with pop bottles, then slashed and stabbed them with knives he found in their kitchen. 

November 4, 1988: Richard Robles, who had served 24 years in the famous ''career girls'' murder case, was denied parole for a second time. Mr. Robles, 45 years old, was given a life sentence for the killing of Janice Wylie, a Newsweek researcher, and Emily Hoffert, an elementary-school teacher, in an East Side apartment on Aug. 28, 1963.

August 29, 1993: Richard Robles, 50 years old, had served 29 years in prison, one of the longest sentences in the state penal system. The Parole Board, citing "the seriousness of the crime," has denied him parole five times. Prison officials said that of the state's 65,000 inmates, only 20 have been imprisoned longer than Mr. Robles. 

October 8, 2012: Whitmore died in a Wildwood, N.J., nursing home. He was 68. In a NY Times Op-Ed article entitled, “Who Will Mourn George Whitmore?” T. J English wrote:

This week, a flawed but beautiful man who offered up his innocence to New York City died with hardly any notice. To those who benefited from his struggles or who believe the city is a fairer place for his having borne them, I ask: Who grieves for George Whitmore?

In recent months, I’d fallen out of touch with George Whitmore, Jr.. Knowing him, and attempting to assume a measure of responsibility for his life, was often exhausting. While I had come to love him, the drunken phone calls, the calls from hospital emergency rooms and flophouses, and the constant demands for money became overwhelming. When people who claimed to be friends of his starting calling me and asking for favors, I decided to back off. But when I received a cryptic e-mail from one of his nephews, informing me that Whitmore had died on Monday, I was overcome with sadness and regret.

Remove term: George Whitmore Jr Crucified George Whitmore Jr Crucified

February 28, 2014: from an article in The Paris Review by Sabine Heinlein. I mailed a copy of my book Among Murderers, about the struggles three men faced when they returned to the world after several decades behind bars, to Richard Robles. 

Robles wrote back:

Remorse is a tough subject. It’s complicated by the human desire to avoid pain and punishment, which is actually stronger, I think. It includes feelings of shame and guilt. Then there’s the drive to rehabilitate oneself and change. It is complex and confusing. One has to take an honest look at himself and get rid of that “bullshit ego.”

He added:

I found it [the book] very honest and real. I think it will be an eye opener for those who have the misconception that parole is freedom. I’d like to see it as mandatory reading for all first offenders because they often think “parole is freedom” and are quickly, very negatively struck with profound disappointment when reality smacks or kicks them in the face.

Along these lines I would have liked to see more about the unrealistic expectations prisoners fantasize about in prison—and how fantasies inhibit reform/rehabilitation efforts. I think you tried to portray that but I’m not certain the average reader could get it. You portray a prisoner as saying “Expect the unexpected.” I’d rephrase that to “Expect to be disappointed in every dream you conjure in prison.”
Remove term: George Whitmore Jr Crucified George Whitmore Jr Crucified
Richard Robles 2016

George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  George Whitmore Jr Crucified,  

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

Spoiler alert: the government will finally free the slave Dred Scott after decades of involuntary servitude.  That decision will never compensate the him, his wife, or his children for those decades. 

Northwest Ordinance

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

August 7, 1789: President George Washington signed the Northwest Ordinance The primary effect of the ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the US out of the region south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River. One of its provisions was the prohibition of slavery in the territory which had the practical effect of establishing the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slave territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. This division helped set the stage for national competition over admitting free and slave states, the basis of a critical question in American politics in the 19th century until the Civil War. 

Around 1795: Dred Scott born a slave in Virginia.  Scott's owner, Peter Blow, moved to Alabama, but after his farm failed, move to Missouri around 1830. Blow brought his slaves, including Dred Scott.

Peter Blow died in 1832 and in 1833 US Army Surgeon Dr John Emerson purchased Scott and brought with him to Fort Armstrong in Illinois--admitted as a state on December 3, 1818.

In May 1836, the Army assigned Emerson assigned to Fort Snelling in the Wisconsin territory (a free territory as per the Missouri Compromise [1820]). Emerson took Scott.

Two weeks before Scott arrived at Fort Snelling, Congress had passed the Wisconsin Enabling Act, effectively making slavery illegal in the Wisconsin territory under three distinct statutes:
    1) the act mandated that the laws of Michigan, which was a free state, govern the new territory
  2) the act made the Northwest Ordinance applicable in the territory, which also prohibited slavery
  3) the act reaffirmed and supplemented the Missouri Compromise.
Thus, by taking Scott as a slave to this territory and keeping him there for two and a half years, Emerson broke the law in those three  ways. 

These facts provided Scott with a legitimate basis on which to claim his freedom in court, although Scott did not act on this opportunity.

May 1836 – April 1838

Sometime during this period, Dred Scott married Harriet Robinson, a slave owned by Major Lawrence Taliaferro, the Indian Agent stationed near Fort Snelling.  Taliaferro was also a justice of the peace, and in that capacity he performed a formal wedding ceremony for his slave and her new husband. 

This event was extraordinary and significant. While it not give Dred Scott a new claim to freedom, the formal marriage provided another factual basis for his claim that he became free while he lived at Fort Snelling. Under the laws of the Southern states, a slave could never be legally married. Slave couples, of course, “married” each other throughout the South. Often a master performed a ceremony for his slaves. Sometimes white clergymen or slave preachers consecrated slave unions. Some slaves simply announced they were married or went to their masters to ask permission to live as a couple. Often slave communities developed their own ceremonies exchanging vows such as “until death or master do part.” Slaves understood the precarious nature of their personal lives.

From the Chicago-Kent Law Review 

No Southern state allowed slaves to be married under the eyes of the law for three important reasons. 

First, as law students learn in family law, a marriage is a contract between three parties—the two spouses and the state. Slaves could never have a legal marriage because American slaves could not be parties to contracts.  No American slave state allowed slaves to make contracts or in any other way perform legally binding acts, including marriages. 

Second, a legal recognition of slave marriages would have undermined the property interest of masters. Such marriages might have limited the right of the master to sell one of the partners. 

Finally, recognition of slave marriages might have led slaves to claim other rights. The legal right to marry implies the right to raise your own children, and under common law a husband or wife cannot be compelled to testify against his or her spouse in a prosecution. A husband at common law had a duty to protect is wife from assaults from others, but slaves could never protect their wives from the assaults of their masters or overseers.

October 1837

The Army transferred Dr Emerson to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. Because the trip down the Mississippi at that time of year was dangerous, Emerson left Dred and Harriet Scott at Fort Snelling, Wisconsin Territory where he rented them to other people. This fact could have significantly buttressed their subsequent claims to freedom. By leaving the Scotts at Fort Snelling and hiring them out at a profit, Emerson was in fact bringing the system of slavery itself into the Wisconsin Territory, a free territory. If a master worked a slave or hired a slave out, then the institution of slavery itself would have been in a free territory and the slave might legitimately claim their freedom.

While at the military post, Emerson might have claimed an exemption, but once he left and hired out the Scotts  it was an unequivocal violation of the Missouri Compromise, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Wisconsin Enabling Act. 

November 1837

The Army sent Dr. Emerson to Fort Jesup in Louisiana. The Scotts remained in Wisconsin Territory. 

On February 6, 1838, Dr Emerson married Eliza Irene Sanford and sent for the Scotts. 

April 1838

The Scotts joined Dr & Mrs Emerson in Louisiana. When the Scotts arrived in Louisiana they might have sued for their freedom in that state. For more than twenty years Louisiana courts had upheld the freedom claims of slaves who had lived in free jurisdictions. Had the Scotts claimed their freedom in Louisiana in 1838, theirs would have been an open-and-shut case. But, once again, they did not seek their freedom. It is likely that they simply had no knowledge that the Louisiana courts routinely freed slaves who had lived in free jurisdictions.

October 1838

The Army transferred Dr Emerson back to Ft Snelling (Wisconsin). During the trip on a Mississippi River steamboat that was north of the state of Missouri—that is, in territory made free by the Missouri Compromise—Harriet Scott gave birth to her first child, who she named Eliza after Mrs. Emerson. Thus, Eliza Scott was born on a boat in the Mississippi River, surrounded on one side by the free state of Illinois and on the other side by the free territory of Wisconsin. Under both state and federal law Eliza was born “free.”

May 1840

The Army sent Dr. Emerson to Florida to serve in the Seminole War. On his way there he left his wife and the Scotts in St. Louis.

August 1842

The Army discharged Emerson, and he returned to St. Louis. He later moved to Iowa, a free territory, but left the Scott family in St. Louis where Dred and Harriet were hired out to various people.

December 1843

The forty-year-old Dr John Emerson died suddenly. His widow, Irene, inherited his estate. For the next three years, the Scotts worked as hired slaves with the rent going to Irene Emerson.


In February, 1846, Dred Scott tried to purchase freedom for himself and his family, but Irene Emerson refused to sell Scott to himself. 

April 6, 1846: Scott filed suit for his freedom and that of his wife and two children. Sometime after his return to St. Louis, Scott had renewed contact with the sons of Peter Blow, his former master. The  Blows began to provide financial aid for Scott’s litigation.

Scott’s lawyers assumed his case was an easy one to win. In 1824, in Winny v. Whitesides, the Missouri Supreme Court freed a slave who had been taken to Illinois.  In the next thirteen years the Missouri court heard another ten cases on this issue, always deciding that slaves gained their freedom by either working in a free jurisdiction or living there long enough to be considered a resident.  

During this period Missouri was one of the most liberal Southern states on this question. It was not, however, the only slave state to reach this result. Courts in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi also upheld the freedom of slaves who had lived in a free state or territory.

June 30, 1847

In a trial before the St. Louis Circuit Court Scott lost because of a technicality—he was suing Irene Emerson for his freedom but he had no witness who could prove she now owned him.

March 17, 1848

Before the next trial took place, Irene Emerson had the sheriff of St. Louis County take charge of the Scott family. He was responsible for their hiring out, and maintained the wages until such a time as the outcome of the freedom suit was determined (custody of the Scott family would remain with the St. Louis County sheriff until March 18, 1857). 

In late 1849 or early 1850, Irene Emerson left Missouri for Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1850 she married Dr. Calvin C. Chaffee, a Springfield physician with antislavery leanings who later became a Republican congressman. Although no longer in Missouri, Irene Emerson remained the defendant in Dred Scott’s freedom suit before the Missouri state courts. Her brother, a prosperous New York merchant with strong personal and professional ties to St. Louis, continued to act on her behalf in defending the case and would become the named defendant in the federal case.

January 12, 1850

The judge in the St. Louis Circuit Court charged the jury that Scott’s residence in free jurisdictions would destroy his status as a slave, and if the jurors determined he had in fact lived in a free state or territory, they should find him free. The jury sided with Scott and his family.

The jury of twelve white men in Missouri (the only people eligible to be on a jury) concluded that Scott’s residence in a free state and a free territory had made him free. This result was consistent with Missouri precedents dating from 1824. Irene Emerson, reluctant to lose her four slaves, appealed this decision to the Missouri Supreme Court.

March 22, 1852

In Scott v. Emerson, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the lower court and declared that Scott was still a slave. The decision was political. The court decided the case not on the basis of legal precedent, but because of popular prejudice. Chief Justice William Scott stated,

 Times are not now as they were when the former decisions on this subject were made. Since then not only individuals but States have been possessed with a dark and fell spirit in relation to slavery, whose gratification is sought in the pursuit of measures, whose inevitable consequence must be the overthrow and destruction of our government. Under such circumstances it does not behoove the State of Missouri to show the least countenance to any measure which might gratify this spirit. She is willing to assume her full responsibility for the existence of slavery within her limits, nor does she seek to share or divide it with others.

Thus, Chief Justice Scott overturned twenty-eight years of Missouri precedents.


 Scott’s fourth lawyer, Vermont-born Roswell Field, took over the case.  Field conceived a rather brilliant strategy:  to bring the case into federal court under diversity jurisdiction. Article III of the United States Constitution allows citizens of one state to sue citizens of another state in federal court. Field argued that Scott, as a free person, was a “citizen” of Missouri and thus entitled to sue John Sanford, a citizen of New York, in federal court.

Field’s position assumed two points that were as yet unproved: first, that Scott was indeed free, and second, that if free, he was also a citizen of Missouri.

Although a citizen of New York, John Sanford continued to exert control over the Scotts. He also continued  to defend the case, because the Scott family constituted a valuable asset. Since early in the litigation, Scott had been in the immediate custody of the sheriff of St. Louis County. The sheriff had been renting Scott and his family out, collecting the rent, and holding the money in escrow until the case was finally settled. By this time a tidy sum of money had accumulated. The winner of the case—either Scott or his owner—would get this money once the case was finally settled.


In May 1854 , Federal Judge Robert William Wells told the jury that Scott’s status was to be determined by Missouri law. Since the Missouri Supreme Court had already decided that Scott was a slave, the federal jury upheld his status as a slave.    

If an Illinois court had previously declared Scott free, then the result would have been different. Judge Wells might then have held that, under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, that Missouri was obligated to recognize the judicial proceedings that had emancipated Scott. But, no such proceeding had in fact ever taken place in Illinois or in the Wisconsin Territory. Thus, Scott and his family remained slaves.

The next stop in Dred Scott’s legal odyssey was the United States Supreme Court. An appeal would be more expensive than the Blows, by now Scott’s main financial patrons, could afford. Moreover, this was not a case that Scott’s lawyer, Rosewell Field,  was able to finance or even argue. However, Montgomery Blair, a Washington lawyer well connected to Missouri politics, agreed to take the case for free. 

In December 1854 , Scott appealed to the Supreme Court alleging that Judge Wells had made an error in charging the jury that Dred Scott was not entitled to his freedom. The appeal reached Washington too late for the 1854 term, so the Supreme Court held the case over for the December 1855 term and finally heard arguments in February 1856.


In May 1856, the Supreme Court postponed a decision and scheduled reargument for the following term. 

In December 1856, the Court heard arguments and also asked questions about the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise. It was an election year and perhaps for political reasons, the Court declined to render a decision in the spring of 1857.


Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

February, 1857 : Irene Emerson's abolitionist second husband, Dr. Calvin Chaffee, a Massachusetts congressman, found out his wife owned the most famous slave in America. Unable to intervene in the case at that point, Chaffee suffered "disparaging commentary" in newspapers nationwide and on the floor of Congress because of the seeming hypocrisy of his ardent abolitionist stance while being a slave owner. Chaffee immediately transferred ownership of the Scott family to Taylor Blow in St. Louis; Missouri law only allowed a citizen of the state to emancipate a slave there. Irene Emerson Chaffee agreed to this ownership transfer on the condition that she receive the wages the Scott family earned over the last seven years. The wages amounted to about $750. There is speculation that, in 1857, Dred and Harriet Scott were worth about $350 each on the slave market. Had Irene Emerson Chaffee sold them, her return may have been less than the total of their wages earned.
US Supreme Court Keeps Scotts Slaves
March 6, 1857 : Chief Justice Taney delivered the majority opinion of the Court.

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

It held that Scott was not a "citizen of a state" and therefore was unable to bring suit in federal court. According to Taney, the authors of the Constitution had viewed all blacks as “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

If the Court were to grant Scott’s petition, It would give to persons of the negro race, ...the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased ...the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

As far as Scott’s previous residence in both a free state and a free territory, Justice Taney deferred to the Missouri State court’s: “...we are satisfied, upon a careful examination of all the cases decided in the State courts of Missouri referred to, that it is now firmly settled by the decisions of the highest court in the State, that Scott and his family upon their return were not free, but were, by the laws of Missouri, the property of the defendant; and that the Circuit Court of the United States had no jurisdiction, when, by the laws of the State, the plaintiff was a slave, and not a citizen.”  

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

On May 26, 1857, Dred and Harriet Scott appeared in the St. Louis Circuit Court and were formally freed; Judge Alexander Hamilton approved the papers. Dred Scott took a job as a porter at Barnum's Hotel at Second and Walnut streets in St. Louis; he became a sort of celebrity there. The family lived off Carr Street in the city, where Harriet took in laundry, which Scott delivered when he was not working at the hotel. 

June 16, 1858 : with the recent Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in mind, and accepting the Illinois Republican Party's nomination as that state's United States senator, Abraham Lincoln delivered his “House divided” speech. Part of his speech included:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

Dred Scott dies

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

Scott did not live to enjoy his freedom very long,  On September 17, 1858  he died of  tuberculosis. He had been free less than two years.

Harriet Scott

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed

June 17, 1876: Harriet Scott died at the home of her daughter Lizzie and son-in-law’s Wilson Madison. She was buried June 20, 1876, in Section C of Greenwood Cemetery in St. Louis County.

Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, Slaves Dred Harriet Scott Freed, 

Emmett Louis Till

Emmett Louis Till

Emmylou Harris…”My Name Is Emmett Till”
In the mid-20th century, most Americans worried about atomic weapons.

Today the fear of terrorism has replaced our fear of an atomic apocalypse...mostly.

We consider terrorists  foreigners.  Of course there have been example of domestic terrorism and throughout American histroy a whole class of Americans were under the constant fear of domestic terrorists, vigilante injustice, lynching.

Emmett Louis Till Emmett Louis Till

The story of Emmett Till is one of the better known examples of the thousands of black Americans who were mistreated, tortured, and killed by domestic terrorists.

There are many articles and books about Emmett Till and the horrors that surround his final moments. This piece is simply a chronological listing of his final days and the decades of injustice that followed.

Reverend George Lee

Emmett Louis Till

On May 7, 1955 the Reverend George Lee, a grocery owner and NAACP field worker in Belzoni, Mississippi, was shot and killed at point blank range while driving in his car after trying to vote. At his funeral, Lee’s widow ordered his casket be opened to show the effects of shotgun pellets to the face—a rebuttal to the official version that Lee died in a car accident. Shortly before his death Lee had preached, “Pray not for your mom and pop—they’ve gone to heaven. Pray you can make it through this hell.”  (see May 31)

Moses Wright

Emmett Louis Till

In early August 1955 Emmett Till's great uncle Moses Wright had traveled from Mississippi to Chicago to visit family. At the end of his stay, Wright planned to take Till's cousin, Wheeler Parker, back to Mississippi with him to visit relatives. Emmett learned of these plans he begged his mother to let him go along. Initially, Mamie Till said no. She wanted to take a road trip to Omaha, Nebraska and attempted to lure Till to join her with the promise of open-road driving lessons. But Till desperately wanted to spend time with his cousins in Mississippi. She gave permission.

Emmett Till

Emmett Louis Till

August 19, 1955: Till’s mother gave Emmett his late father's signet ring, engraved with the initials L.T.  Louis Till had died in 1945 while a private in Europe during World War II. 

August 20, 1955: Mamie Till drove her son to the 63rd Street station in Chicago. They kissed goodbye and Till boarded a southbound train headed for Mississippi. 

August 21, 1965: Till arrived in Money, Mississippi to stay at the home of his great uncle Moses Wright. 

Bryant’s Grocery

Emmett Louis Till

August 24, 1955: Emmett Till and a group of teenagers entered Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market in Money, Mississippi to buy refreshments after a long day picking cotton in the hot afternoon sun. Till purchased bubble gum, and some of the kids with him would later report that he either whistled at, flirted with, or touched the hand of the store's white female clerk—and wife of the owner—Carolyn Bryant. 
Emmitt Till murdered
August 28, 1955: at approximately 2:30 AM Roy Bryant, Carolyn's husband, and his half brother J.W. Milam kidnapped Emmett Till from Moses Wright's home. They then brutally beat, dragged him to the bank of the Tallahatchie River, shot him in the head, tied him with barbed wire to a large metal fan, and shoved his mutilated body into the water. 

Moses Wright reported Till's disappearance to the local authorities. 

August 29, 1955:  authorities arrested J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant on kidnapping charges. They are jailed in Greenwood, Mississippi and held without bond. (see Aug 31)

August 31, 1955: Emmett Till's decomposed corpse was pulled from Mississippi's Tallahatchie River. Moses Wright identifies the body from a ring with the initials L.T.

September 1, 1955: Mississippi Governor Hugh White ordered  local officials to "fully prosecute" Milam and Bryant.

Emmett Till’s return to Chicago

Emmett Louis Till

September 2, 1955: in Chicago, Mamie Till arrived at the Illinois Central Terminal to receive Emmett's casket. Family and media surround her. She collapsed when she saw the casket. 

September 3, 1955: as mentioned above, in May the widow of Reverend George Lee had decided to have an open casket for her  husband. 

Mamie Till decided to do the same. "Let the people see what they did to my boy!"

Thousands waited in line to see Emmett's brutally beaten body.

Emmett Louis Till

September 6, 1955: Emmett Till was buried at Burr Oak Cemetery. 
Indictment for murder and trial
September 7, 1955: A Tallahatchie County grand jury indicted Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam for the murder and kidnapping of Emmett Till. Conviction on either charge could carry the death penalty. They both plead innocent and remain in jail until the start of the trial.

September 19, 1955: the murder trial (only) began in Sumner, Mississippi, the county seat of Tallahatchie County. Jury selection began. Law banned any blacks and all women from serving. The 12-man jury consisted of nine farmers, two carpenters and one insurance agent.

Mamie Till departed from Chicago's Midway Airport to attend the trial. (see Sept 20)

September 20, 1955: Judge Curtis Swango recessed the court to allow more witnesses to be found. It was the first time in Mississippi history that local law enforcement, local NAACP leaders, and black and white reporters had teamed up. They try to locate sharecroppers who saw Milam's truck and overheard Emmett being beaten.

September 21, 1955: Moses Wright accused the two white men in open court, an unthinkable thing to do in that place at that time. While on the witness stand, he stood up and pointed his finger at Milam and Bryant, and accused them of coming to his house and kidnapping Emmett.

September 22, 1955: the defense began presenting its witnesses. Carolyn Bryant testified outside the presence of the jury. Sheriff Strider testified that he thought the body pulled out of the river had been there "from ten to fifteen days," far too long to be that of Till. An embalmer testified that the body was "bloated beyond recognition."
Emmett Louis Till

September 23, 1955: after a 67-minute deliberation, the jury acquitted Milam and Bryant. One juror told a reporter that they wouldn't have taken so long if they hadn't stopped to drink pop. Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam stood before photographers, lighted up cigars, and kissed their wives in celebration.
Kidnapping charges dropped
Moses Wright and Willie Reed, another poor black Mississippian who testified, left Mississippi. Once there, Reed collapsed and suffered a nervous breakdown. (Reed, see July 18, 2013 below)

September 30, 1955: Milam and Bryant were released on bond. for the pending kidnapping charges.

November 9, 1955: returning to Mississippi one last time, Moses Wright and Willie Reed testified before a LeFlore County grand jury in Greenwood, Mississippi. The grand jury refused to indict Milam or Bryant for kidnapping. The two men go free.
The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi”

Emmett Louis Till

January 24, 1956: an article by William Bradford Huie in Look magazine appears. It is titled, "The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi." Protected by double-jeopardy,  Milam and Bryant admit to the murder. 

They detailed how they beat Till with a gun, shot him and threw his body in the Tallahatchie River with a heavy cotton-gin fan attached with barbed wire to his neck to weigh him down. The two killers were paid a reported $4,000 for their participation in the article.

January 22, 1957: Huie wrote another article for Look magazine, "What's Happened to the Emmett Till Killers?" Huie wrote that "Milam does not regret the killing, though it has brought him nothing but trouble." Blacks have stopped frequenting stores owned by the Milam and Bryant families and put them out of business. Bryant takes up welding for income, and the community ostracized both men .

E. Frederic Morrow

Emmett Louis Till

E. Frederic Morrow moved to the White House on July 10, 1955. He  was an aide to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and as such he became the first African-American to serve in that capacity. His autobiography vividly describes his difficulties in trying to persuade the administration to take a strong stand on civil rights. Morrow, for example, tried unsuccessfully to get President Eisenhower to issue a statement regarding Emmett Till's murder.  

Morrow did, however, finally convince Eisenhower to meet with civil rights leaders in the White House, a meeting that occurred on June 23, 1958. 


December 31, 1980: J. W. Milam died in Mississippi of cancer.

September 1, 1994: Roy Bryant Sr., 63, died at the Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi of cancer.

January 6, 2003: Mamie Till Mobley died of heart failure, at age 81. Her death came just two weeks before The Murder of Emmett Till was to premiere nationally on PBS.
Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007
October 7, 2008: introduced in 2007, President Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007.  It tasked the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI with reviewing, investigating and assessing for prosecutive merit more than 100 unsolved civil rights era homicides.

Lil Wayne

February 13, 2013: Airickca Gordon-Taylor, director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation (founded in 2009), requested that Lil Wayne remove Emmett Till’s name from his verse on Future’s “Karate Chop.” Gordon-Taylor calls Wayne’s use of Till’s name “disappointing, dishonorable, and outright disrespectful to our family.”

Guesting on “Karate Chop,” a single by Atlanta rapper Future, Lil Wayne contributed the third verse of the remix, which began:
Pop a lot of pain pills

‘Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels

Beat that p—y up like Emmett Till
February 18, 2013: Epic Records Chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid apologized to the Till family and said that his label was working to remove from circulation a remix of the track "Karate Chop."

Willie Reed dies

July 18, 2013: Willie Reed, who had changed his name to Willie Louis after the murder trial of Emmett Till and had moved to Chicago, died. Louis, one of the last living witnesses for the prosecution in the Till case, died in Oak Lawn, Ill., a Chicago suburb. He was 76.
Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016
December 16, 2016: President Obama signed the Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016. The Act allowed the Department of Justice and the FBI to reopen unsolved civil rights crimes.committed before 1980. The legislation is an expansion of a previous bill of a similar name signed into law in 2008.

Carolyn Bryant Donham admits lying

22,433 days days later

January 27, 2017: in a Vanity Fair magazine article, Duke University professor Timothy B. Tyson reported that Carolyn Bryant Donham (the woman who accused Till of inappropriate behavior) told him that the story she and others told about Emmett Till were false. Tyson wrote that Donham said of her long-ago allegations—that Emmett grabbed her and was menacing and sexually crude toward her--“that part is not true.” Tyson also wrote a book, The Blood of Emmett Till, about the murder.

Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till, Emmett Louis Till,